When Paola received her Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift at Cajamarca Biblical Center in the highlands of Peru, she loved the pink teddy bear she found
inside. With a rainbow applique on its tummy, the 8-year-old quickly named the bear “Rainbow.”
“I dream about him. I sleep with him,” Paola said. But Rainbow is more than just a stuffed animal. To Paola, the teddy bear is a tangible reminder of God’s love. She had been saved about three years before she received the gift in her shoebox, and she says it made her feel that God was with her.
A short time later Paola was invited to participate in The Greatest Journey, a dynamic 12-lesson discipleship course that Samaritan’s Purse offers to many shoebox recipients.
“I wanted to attend The Greatest Journey because I wanted to learn more about God’s Word” Paola said.
“I wanted to attend The Greatest Journey because I wanted to learn more about God’s Word”
Her favorite story was about Jesus and the boy whose lunch of fishes and loaves miraculously fed a hungry crowd. “That story taught me how to share with others,” she said.
Paola took that lesson to heart. As she learned more about God through The Greatest Journey, “I shared everything with my cousins,” Paola said. God used what she told them to touch their hearts, and six cousins prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. “It is important for me to share my faith,” Paola said.
Paola was able to do this once again at her graduation ceremony from The Greatest Journey. Proudly wearing a cap and gown along with the other graduates, Paola stood in front of the church crowded with friends and family and recited Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own likeness” (NIrV).
She also answered questions her teacher posed regarding Zacchaeus—to illustrate the knowledge she gained during the discipleship course.
After the ceremony was over, Paola showed she was just like any other child her age. “My favorite part was when we threw our hats in the air,” she said.
Now with her own New Testament and graduation certificate, Paola said, “I will keep the certificate they gave me in my shoebox. I will read my Bible every day.”
Paola’s mother Ines Rodriguez said, “I am very proud of her because she is learning about God at a young age.”
Peru is changing as the younger generation is learning to follow God through The Greatest Journey discipleship program. We pray that more of these young evangelists will say along with Paola, “The most important thing to me is my faith in God.”
The Greatest Journey is an exciting evangelism and discipleship program designed to teach children how to become faithful followers of Christ and to share their faith with others. We offer the program to children who have received Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Boys and girls who complete The Greatest Journey course receive graduation certificates and New Testaments in their own language. We’re able to provide all the study materials, a graduation certificate and New Testament for only $6 per child.