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The journey that began with a shoebox

Peter Wooding reports on the impact of a special Bible study course that helps children share their faith with others ...

PETER WOODING reports on the impact of a special Bible study course that helps children to share their faith with others

Thirteen-year-old Luis was the typical bully in his school in Lima, Peru.

He would regularly get into fights and tease his fellow pupils and even laugh in their face. He would also vandalise property including smashing windows.

He was so out of control he was eventually expelled from his school.

“Before Jesus was in his life he was a rebel. I would cry and try to help him. I would ask him: ‘Why are you acting like this, son?’” explains Luis’ mother, Ricci Pena.

However, Luis’ journey towards transformation began after he had received a gift-filled shoebox through Operation Christmas Child, a project run by Samaritan’s Purse. Luis was invited to participate in , a 12-part discipleship programme developed by Samaritan’s Purse in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Luis was deeply affected by this programme: “It helped me to learn about the love of God and that really impacted me,” he says.

After Luis completed The Greatest Journey those closest to him could see a major difference in him, including his friend Nataly: “He used to be so rude to people, but now he’s kind and gentle. Now we get along well.”

Following the Bible study course, his local church hosted a special graduation ceremony. “This was one of the best days in my entire life,” he recalls. “I’ve never been as emotional and happy as I was that day.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”

A major part of the course is to equip children to share their faith with others, which is something Luis definitely plans to do.

“In my life I’ve decided to be a light in the darkness,” he says. “Just like I used to be in the dark, I want to be a light to those that are lost and I want them to have that light so that they can share it with others as well.”

Luis’ story is typical of many of the children who have now completed The Greatest Journey. Since its launch in 2008, more than 1.1 million children have committed their lives to Christ in more than 65 countries. This amazing response to the Gospel has moved UK churches participating in Operation Christmas Child to ask for The Greatest Journey resource to be made available for their children’s ministries, including holiday clubs and Sunday school programmes.

In response, at the recent Christian Resources Exhibition, the BGEA launched a new version of The Greatest Journey. This version has been adapted from the international version. While the children’s books are largely the same, full of colourful cartoon images, a new Guide is being made available for children’s ministry leaders, backed up by additional resources online.

“We’re so excited to see what God is doing through The Greatest Journey overseas. We want to facilitate what He wants to do here through these amazing resources, enabling churches to disciple the next generation of believers in this country,” explains Samaritan’s Purse and BGEA UK Executive Director, Simon Barrington.

He adds: “We hope churches will utilise all of the resources being made available – in print and online – to set up longer-term discipleship initiatives for children and young people.”
 
To find out more go to www.thegreatestjourney.org.uk

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