Packing a shoebox with a few gifts, school supplies, a toothbrush, and toothpaste is a simple gesture than can be quite impactful through Operation Christmas Child (OCC).

“Operation Christmas Child was used by God to help students and faculty see the needs of lost people and to take concrete steps to meet those needs with the gospel,” said Dr. Van Sanders, Director of TMU’s World Missions Center.

Even with a pandemic in 2020, Samaritan’s Purse delivered over 9 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need. Distributed in partnership with local churches, organizations, and schools around the world, every box gave a boy or girl a tangible expression of God’s love and the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

An initiative to make a difference

Christian Studies major Natalie Griffin said God led her to coordinate Operation Christmas Child, a ministry she has been passionate about for many years, on the campus of TMU.

With the help of Dr. Van Sanders in the World Missions Center, Griffin said the ball began rolling as everyone returned to school in the fall. “Every step was made clearer as I and the many people who helped make this possible kept praying and working to pack as many shoeboxes as we could.”

“The fuel that keeps you going, even when the work may seem mundane or tedious, is this simple fact: every shoebox is for a child that gets to hear the gospel,” Griffin explained. “Even if our team had just packed one shoebox, that equals another child who gets the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus Christ. And that is such an encouraging, amazing, life-changing thing,” Griffin explained.”

Griffin said that as the team continued to pray and encourage the campus to pack shoeboxes, the outpouring of support was remarkable. “Soon, almost the entire floor around the World Missions Center was stacked full of shoeboxes!”

As a campus, Griffin said a total of 512 shoeboxes were packed for the 2020 season. “It surpassed my wildest dreams for how many we would be able to pack,” she said. “The Lord’s faithfulness and the blessings of the many people who lent a helping hand allowed TMU to be able to reach 512 children across the globe for the sake of Christ!”

OCC has a global impact

According to Samaritan’s Purse Impact Statement, since the beginning of Operation Christmas Child in 1993, a total of 186 million shoeboxes, and gospel opportunities, have been delivered worldwide. Currently, over 100 countries receive the shoeboxes with each box containing The Greatest Gift Gospel story booklet available in 86 different languages.

In 2020 alone, 14 nations collected shoeboxes which included: Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. From densely populated inner cities to deserts and jungles, those who participate in donating these gifts are helping to share the gospel.

TMU on Mission

Operation Christmas Child provided the entire campus of TMU a tangible opportunity to share the gospel with children living in different countries and cultures throughout the world.

“One goal of TMU’s World Missions Center is to equip every student with a heart for God’s desire to spread the gospel among all nations,” said Sanders. “Another goal is to provide opportunities for students to participate in global outreach while earning their degree.”

“It was such a privilege to be a part of continuing to grow the kingdom of Christ along my TMU family,” said Griffin.

For more information on Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child, visit:


Jenny Gregory is the Digital Content Specialist for TMU’s Marketing and Communications.

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