It is so encouraging to see youth—teens—teaching and discipling children as part of Operation Christmas Child.
Suriname bills itself as the greenest country in the world, boasting forests cover 93 percent of its land. Wherever you turn, from the coastal capital to the dense inland jungle, it’s true that the nation seems to burst forth with innumerable flowers, bushes, vines, and trees.
Such vibrancy seems to characterize the Operation Christmas Child project in Suriname as well. Earlier this year, a Samaritan’s Purse team met with two of Suriname’s youngest Operation Christmas Child teachers—both in their teens—who were busy sharing the Good News with their peers. Young, committed leaders teaching other young people how to follow Christ is a wonderful indicator of growth. Spiritual fruit is coming, by God’s grace.
Charahja: Loving Jesus, Loving Children
Charahja, 15, grew up in a Christian home, and her mom, Abigail Singotiko-van Broekhoven, now serves as the national discipleship coordinator for Operation Christmas Child in Suriname. Charahja received her own shoebox gift years ago and remembers it fondly.
“I was overjoyed,” Charahja said. “I got really long socks. I was excited about that because when it gets too cold, my bones start hurting.”
She began following Jesus quite young and has been accompanying her mother to outreach events and The Greatest Journey discipleship classes for years. She started by working with the younger siblings of children in her mother’s course. Then Charahja more formally shadowed her mother while teaching. “Doing Operation Christmas Child with my mom makes me very happy and I like having my mom close to me,” she said. “She teaches me a lot of things. I kind of have her as my role model.”
Finally, Charahja received official training last year and began solo-leading The Greatest Journey with students at her grandfather’s house.
This year she continued teaching and helping to lead Operation Christmas Child outreach events. Charahja’s faith is personal, dynamic, and infectious. “Jesus is my best friend,” she said. “I talk to Him every day. When I have a problem, I close my door and start talking to Him.”
She wants her students—and everyone in Suriname, she says with youthful enthusiasm—to be saved and cultivate their own relationship with Jesus Christ. “My prayer for the students that I teach is that they will accept Jesus in their life as Savior and friend and find happiness in Christ.”
As she teaches The Greatest Journey course, she focuses on ongoing spiritual growth, encouraging her peers to live out their faith in word and deed. “Acting like you’re a Christian and [just] saying you’re a Christian are two very different things,” she said. Ultimately, she hopes they will take the Good News to all their friends and relatives.
Charahja spends a lot of time with her mom planning and preparing to teach. But, she’s quick to point out—with great maturity—that “we need to pray, so God can lead us through it.”
She understands that God is the focus of Operation Christmas Child—the content of our message, yes, and also the One who gives strength to pack, process, ship, teach, and disciple. “If we don’t include God in Operation Christmas Child, it won’t be successful in any way,” she said.