Shoebox Gift Distribution Brings New Life, New Ministry in Ecuador

September 24, 2019 • Ecuador

Jamyleth received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift as a child. Today she's committed to sharing the Gospel and training Bible teachers.

The Greatest Journey

Jamyleth’s life changed for good when she was an 8-year-old girl living on a farm in Riobamba, Ecuador. It was then she received a gift-filled Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

“I was very excited,” Jamyleth, now 22, recalls. “I had received presents from my parents before, but nothing like the shoebox. My favorite thing in the shoebox was a zebra toy, and I still have it.”

Jamyleth became a Christian during an Operation Christmas Child outreach event.

Jamyleth became a Christian during an Operation Christmas Child outreach event.

Jamyleth was told that the shoebox was from God, and she learned at the event that Jesus died for her sins. Before the shoebox distribution concluded, she received Christ as her Lord and Savior.

She began thinking of others, and, though happy with her newfound treasures, they made her realize that there were many other kids who didn’t have such precious things and who had never before received a gift.

“It’s very hard being a child in Ecuador,” Jamyleth said. “Most kids have to go out and work. There are also abuses from alcohol and drugs. Many come from broken homes, and many live in poverty and become involved in robberies just to try and help their families.”

Jamyleth wanted to pack shoeboxes for every child in her village, but she knew she couldn’t afford to do that. So, she came up with another idea.

“When I went to school, my mother would give me some money for my lunch, but I would save it to buy gifts for other kids,” she said. “Every Christmas and Children’s Day, which is in June, I would buy candy, cookies, and bread, and fill little bags with them and give them to children.”

Her father helped Jamyleth package the goodies, but he pointed out that she was only giving because she had received a gift. He told her she should give for another reason.

Jamyleth trains teachers to lead The Greatest Journey.

Jamyleth trains teachers to lead The Greatest Journey.

“He told me I should tell the children about the love of God,” she said. “So, when I gave out the bags I told the kids that Jesus loves them.”

Jamyleth also became more involved in her church and began teaching Sunday School to 3- and 4-year-old kids. Her knack for teaching was evident even as an 8-year-old, and the experience led her to get more involved in children’s evangelism as she grew older.

But it wasn’t until a few years ago that Jamyleth realized where the shoeboxes came from.

“My aunt told me that some shoeboxes were being distributed nearby, and I wondered if they were like the shoebox I received as a kid,” she said. “When I realized they were, I knew I wanted to participate.”

So, Jamyleth helped give out Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at the event her aunt mentioned. Then she coordinated a collection and distribution through her church. As a result of her initiative, hundreds of shoebox gifts were given to boys and girls in need.

Soon, she was approached by the Operation Christmas Child team in Ecuador to train ministry partners to make Gospel presentations at shoebox events. She was also asked to train instructors in the province of Chimborazo to teach The Greatest Journey, the 12-lesson discipleship course designed for shoebox recipients (and first introduced in Ecuador 10 years ago). She still trains teachers today.

“Looking back, I realize that God has used Samaritan’s Purse as a great blessing in my life through which I am able to continue to serve and train others how to be a blessing in the lives of children,” Jamyleth said.

“God used Samaritan’s Purse as a great blessing in my life.”

In the future, she plans to become a missionary and work with children in Africa. And all of this started with a simple shoebox.

“But it wasn’t a simple box for me,” she said. “It was the beginning of a new life.”

You can bless children around the world by prayerfully packing shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items. National Collection Week is coming up, Nov. 18-25!

Learn more about how to pack a shoebox.

Please pray for Jamyleth as  she continues to share the Gospel in Ecuador.

Please pray for Jamyleth as she continues to share the Gospel in Ecuador.

Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.(Matthew 9:37-38). God is answering those prayers through The Greatest Journey, the discipleship program Samaritan’s Purse offers for boys and girls who receive shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child. We train teachers and supply local churches with everything they need—including Bibles for graduates. Through The Greatest Journey, over 3.8 million children have prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, and 4.2 million have promised to prayerfully share the Gospel with friends and family.
The Greatest Journey Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of God is filled with people who have childlike faith. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). We praise God that more than 17 million children have made decisions for Christ through The Greatest Journey. When they graduate, we present them with the New Testament in their own language so they can continue to grow in their faith and share Jesus with friends and family members. Your gift of $6 per child will enable us to train local volunteer teachers and provide all the materials for the 12-lesson course, including the graduation Bibles.

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Suggested Gift: $6, or $6,000 for a thousand children