In the face of persecution, believers in Central Asia choose to distribute gift-filled Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in their community.
In a small town on the plains of Central Asia, most people are hostile to the small group of Christians living among them. Though these courageous believers are continually harassed, they faithfully persevere.
Two Christian women named Aigul* and Dinara* were meeting regularly to pray for their town. Persecution flared up when Aigul’s mother died.
“Local leaders did not want to give us a burial site in the cemetery,” she said. “They treated us like something filthy or abominable. That group came and threatened me. They wanted to stone me.”
But the presence of Christ in Aigul showed clearly in her response:
“I forgave them all,” she said. “I love them. They just do not know Jesus.”
Choosing to Love
Despite Aigul’s loving and peaceful attitude, the community remained hostile. This stirred up fear in the local Christians who soon stopped coming to church. Aigul and Dinara in desperation contacted a pastor in a nearby area and asked him to come and help their village. This pastor, in turn, rallied other pastors to pray and fast for this hurting community.
“I love them. They just do not know Jesus.”
God heard their pleas and responded in a way that they’d been requesting for years. Aigul had heard of Operation Christmas Child four years earlier and often prayed, “Lord, we have so many needy children here. There are poor and disabled children who never leave their homes and do not have toys.” She knocked faithfully on heaven’s door and waited for an answer that would bless her village.
“I was so excited,” said Aigul, “when Dinara called me to say that we are going to have some shoebox gifts to distribute!”
Bringing Gifts and the Gospel
One of the pastors who had been praying for this town, a man named Ruslan,* felt that God wanted him to be part of bringing gift-filled shoeboxes and the message of the Gospel to this place. When he contacted Aigul, they began praying together and planning some Operation Christmas Child outreach events for her area. After about a month, he organized an expedition that included three off-road vehicles packed full with eight people and 1,000 shoebox gifts. The entourage traveled 10 hours to Aigul’s community.
When they arrived, Ruslan said to an official, “We are [part of] the Church and have come to share the love of God with children.” He also mentioned that they were Aigul’s friends who wanted to support the local congregation.
To their surprise, the official warmly welcomed them and gave them permission to hold outreach events at various locations throughout the region.
This Time, No Opposition to the Gospel
Ruslan had memorized a presentation of the Gospel in the local language and freely shared it with the children and their parents who listened in. Most paid close attention to the Word of God in part because Ruslan illustrated his message with colorful posters supplied by Samaritan’s Purse.
When it came time to surprise the children with shoebox gifts, they were delighted. The boys and girls had never received such gifts before!
“His amazing love reaches out to the ends of the earth!”
Over the course of a single day, the team visited several schools throughout the region, with the message of the Gospel tangibly expressed through shoebox gifts. At each of these outreach events when Ruslan mentioned that Jesus is the Son of God, he met no opposition!
Ruslan said, “The Lord loves even His enemies and He is able to win them with His amazing love that reaches out to the ends of the earth!”
Please pray that these Gospel seeds sown in faith will yield a bountiful harvest.
*Name changed for security