Zac’s Story: Coming Full Circle from Fiji

Zac and a Jump Rope

“Somebody thought of me.”

Zac and his four siblings grew up playing with sticks and stones in his home country of Fiji. They played with what was available because exchanging gifts wasn’t common in their culture. And, for the family of seven, they couldn’t afford extras. Necessity was the mother of invention as neighborhood children would play rugby using empty soda bottles.

His family lived near a river that flooded each year during the rainy season. Zac’s father, who was a pastor, and several men from the church routinely had to go down river to fetch pieces of their church’s structure that had been swept away in the downpour and try to reattach the pieces.

But Zac’s parents stayed faithful to God and relied on Him to provide for their needs. Zac credits the power of prayer as making it possible for him and his siblings to attend school, because otherwise his parents wouldn’t have been able to afford it. But, somehow, God always provided what was needed.

The Gift of a Shoebox and So Much More

Zac placed his trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior at age 5 at a revival camp meeting in his grandmother’s village. Four years later, he received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift during a special event at church.

His mom oversaw the shoebox distribution, calling the names of the children invited from the community first, before the regular Sunday School participants. Zac’s name was last to make sure that the other kids had received gifts. While Zac was initially a little worried that the gifts might run out before she got to him, the spirit of celebration going on as his friends opened their gifts caught his attention.

The joy in the room was infectious, he recalled. “Love, joy, excitement—receiving a shoebox teaches these virtues and so many more,” he said.

When it was his turn to open his box, the first thing he experienced was the clean, fresh smell of everything inside. He even recalls the crisp smell of the pages of a coloring book he received.

“The coloring book had Bible stories in black and white that were brought to life when you put colors in them,” Zac said.

He was overjoyed to receive school supplies, such as pencils and crayons, as well as a jump rope that he could share with his family and friends. He also received toy cars, which he made dirt tracks for around the outside of his house. He couldn’t believe it as he pulled one toy after the other from his box. His favorite item was a yellow yo-yo. He had seen them in stores but always had to leave them behind because something like that was financially out of reach.

“To receive your own toy like that was a jaw-dropping moment,” he said. It was so precious to him that he gave it to his grandmother each day for safekeeping while he was at school and kept it close beside him at night. He looked forward to being able to play with it each day after school.

One day, Zac returned home to find that his grandmother had lent the yo-yo to his cousin.

At first, Zac was upset. But then he realized that he needed to learn to share out of the blessings that God had given him.

“To me, the yo-yo was more than plastic and string,” Zac said. “It was a seed that a family from the U.S. gave so God could sow that seed of love into my heart.

“I used to be a kid on the other side of the globe who received a shoebox. I’m a living, walking testimony to what you all are planting.”

A Shoebox Recipient Comes Full Circle

When Zac came to the U.S., he looked up local shoebox drop-off locations from the list online at so that he could participate in packing shoeboxes. After years of service in the U.S. Army, he became a children’s and youth director as well as the project leader for Operation Christmas Child at his church.

When he saw his youth group packing shoeboxes, he cried “because everything came to a complete circle,” he said.

“I know I’m someone impacting a person on the other side of the globe when I’m packing a shoebox because I was one of those kids,” Zac said.

“Our mission—evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication—is where my heart is,” he said about Operation Christmas Child. “Packing a shoebox may look like a little thing, but it’s very impactful. It’s the footprint and fingerprint of God. It shaped me and continues to shape kids around the world. I am one of many hundreds of millions who received that evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication message.

“Now, I’m part of that discipleship, that sowing and reaping for the Gospel of the people around the world who don’t know Christ.”