Some 8 million needy children in more than 100 countries will receive personal, gift-filled shoe boxes through Operation Christmas Child in the coming year.
Soon, thanks to an exciting new discipleship curriculum called The Greatest Journey, many of these kids will have the opportunity to share the love of God that they’ve been shown with others.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has teamed up with Operation Christmas Child to develop The Greatest Journey which is a three-book set: God’s Great Gift, Walking with God, and Sharing God’s Gift.
“A long-term goal of Operation Christmas Child has been to see kids go from a box to a Bible,” says John Cass, director of Children’s Discipleship for the BGEA. “We help bring in the concept of going from a box to becoming a disciple. We combine those ideas with this program.”
The Greatest Journey initially is being rolled out in Latin American and Caribbean nations in Spanish and English. In 2010, the material will be translated into more than 20 languages, so that eventually, it will be found in approximately 55 languages and be used in over 70 countries.
The curriculum contains a comprehensive Leader’s Guide designed to help teachers teach this life-changing course. In fact, training teachers is a key part of the program. “We are not only focusing on children,” says Cass, “but also putting a strong emphasis on training the teacher to be the strongest advocate to reach the children of OCC for Christ.”
In Quito, Ecuador, this past October, close to 60 volunteer leaders gathered for the first of many training sessions targeted to reach 17,000 teachers in 2010, with a student-to-teacher goal ratio of 20 to 1. With that, potentially 340,000 children are expected to be offered this curriculum by a trained teacher.
Plans are underway for three more training sessions in 2010: two in Africa and one in Europe.
“We are giving them the tools they need to start their own children’s programs and create their own lessons,” says Cass.
In the coming years, millions of children will have the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey, with more than a million of these boys and girls completing the series of Bible lessons.
“These discipleship materials are used by local churches as effective resources to show children how to come into relationship with God, to explore His Word, and to encourage children to grow in their faith,” says Cass.
About Operation Christmas Child: All kinds of people get involved each year, filling shoe boxes with toys, grooming items, school supplies, candy and hand-written notes of encouragement. The gifts are hand-delivered to children worldwide who are suffering because of natural disaster, disease, war, terrorism, famine and poverty. “The boxes are a little symbol of hope,” says Franklin Graham, who is president of the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse, “hope for people who live in poverty, for children who have never had a gift in their life.”
Want to know where the boxes travel? Read about OCC distributions at Franklin Graham Festivals worldwide.