Scaling Mountains with Shoebox Gifts and the Gospel

January 19, 2024 • Philippines
Pastor Jacob and a small ministry team traversed rugged terrain with cartons of Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for children in a remote mountain village in the Philippines.

A Samaritan’s Purse ministry partner in the Philippines tackles rough terrain with Operation Christmas Child boxes in tow. God uses his efforts to bring people to Christ in a remote village.

Operation Christmas Child

The steep footpath that ran alongside the cliff had become a trail of slimy, unrelenting mud. But it was the only way to reach a Filipino community nestled in the mountain forest—a nearly 35-mile walk from the nearest town.

Undaunted by the conditions, Pastor Jacob*, together with his wife, daughter, and a small ministry team, strapped cartons of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to a dirt bike. The load more than tripled the width of the vehicle, but they hired a driver and began their journey to deliver shoebox gifts to children in the remote village. Even more important, they endeavored to bring these boys and girls and their families a message they had never heard before—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The eternity-changing nature of their mission gave the team courage despite the obstacles.

  • The dirt bike toppled over from the weight of the cartons about 15 times every half mile of the trek.

“The motorbike would tip over 15 times every half mile because of the weight of the cartons,” Pastor Jacob said. “The driver said he would quit, but I told him to rest and then try again.”

When even that didn’t work and the terrain became too much for the dirt bike and its precious load, the team resorted to carrying the cartons up the gnarly path.

“We put our hands and feet under roots as we climbed to stop from slipping and falling,” said Pastor Jacob. “We also opened some cartons to put gift boxes into sacks so the children with us could carry boxes up the mountain.”

Bringing Good News, Great Joy

After crossing three rivers, the team rejoiced to make their final ascent into the village.

  • Pastor Jacob and his family traveled with the team across three rivers to deliver Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to the unreached children.

Pastor Jacob quickly gathered the children of the village together for an outreach event to explain why they had come. Using colorful posters from Samaritan’ Purse, his wife and daughter presented the Gospel to the children in a way they could understand, while at the same time Pastor Jacob shared a similar message of Good News with the parents.

When the time came to hand out the shoebox gifts, the children were overjoyed. Tearing into their individual boxes with excitement, the fun gifts inside reinforced to their little hearts how much God loved them.

  • Pastor Jacob’s wife and daughter shared the Gospel with the children at the outreach event using posters supplied by Samaritan’s Purse.

The next day, Pastor Jacob and his wife invited the children to participate in The Greatest Journey follow-up discipleship program. As they shared the Bible lessons, the boys and girls learned to follow the God they had just heard about and even share His Son, Jesus Christ, with their friends and family. The children completed all 12 lessons and graduated from The Greatest Journey, relaying their Scripture memory verses to their neighbors who had come to watch the ceremony.

Pastor Jacob and his wife taught the shoebox recipients The Greatest Journey discipleship lessons during the week following the outreach event.

The Good News began to spread to more and more people throughout their community, drawing many to saving faith in Jesus Christ!

Many of these adults desired to make a public declaration of their new faith in Christ, so Pastor Jacob baptized them in a nearby river. Now, this group of believers has gathered enough lumber to construct a church building in the village.

Pastor Jacob baptized some of the new believers in a nearby river.

With all of these exciting developments, Pastor Jacob and his team’s trek up the mountain seemed a small price to pay.

Remembering God’s Faithfulness

As Pastor Jacob and his family returned to their remote village in the mountains of the Philippines, they remembered how their own community had years ago been steeped in animism. The villagers had often prayed to a certain tree and, on occasion, they seemingly saw answers to their prayers. Then Pastor Jacob’s grandfather spoke against it. When soon afterward the tree split in two and died, the people realized that his grandfather’s God must be greater than the tree.

His grandfather also prayed for a young girl in the village who was near death. While the family prepared for her passing, the grandfather asked Jesus Christ to heal her and He did!

These testimonies to the power of the grandfather’s God opened a door for his grandson, Pastor Jacob, to live in the community. Morning after morning, as the villagers prepared to go out to hunt, they stopped by Pastor Jacob’s house for coffee. While they waited for the steaming cups to cool enough to drink, Pastor Jacob told this new generation of villagers about his grandfather’s God. This daily discipleship ended up establishing not one—but four!—churches in the area. Pastor Jacob trained a pastor to lead each one of these new congregations.

With this background, he hoped to give the village church that had just received shoebox gifts a pastor as well. By God’s grace, Pastor Jacob was able to hand over the spiritual leadership of this new congregation to a man named Edmon* who lives nearer the village than he does. Edmon now regularly walks two hours to get to the fledgling church and encourage the new believers in their faith.

  • The new believers worked to construct their own church building in the village.

Pray for Pastor Jacob, Edmon, and this new congregation to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17) as they establish a heritage of faith in Jesus Christ for generations of Filipinos to come.

*Names have been changed for security purposes.

Operation Christmas Child Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse is sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with millions of boys and girls in more than 100 countries each year. Many of these children have never before received a present or heard the true meaning of Christmas—until they open a gift-filled shoebox from a person like you. Some people are not able to give the $10 per shoebox we request for shipping and related costs. By adopting a shoebox, you can partner with them to deliver the Gospel and help "bring salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, ESV).

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Adopt a Shoebox: $10 | Adopt a Carton of 15 Boxes: $150