Stunning stretches of white sand and the turquoise-blue water of the Pacific mark the island nation of Fiji, but its true beauty goes far beyond what tourists see. God is using Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and the follow-up discipleship program, The Greatest Journey, to plant churches in this ethnically and religiously diverse nation.
“Though Fiji has natural beauty by God’s design, people’s lives are empty.”
“Though Fiji has natural beauty by God’s design, people’s lives are empty,” said Pastor Sid Kumar, an Operation Christmas Child leader in Fiji. “They need the Gospel. They need Jesus.”
Since 2004, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed nearly 377,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts in Fiji through local church partnerships. Each box opens the heart of a child and their family to God’s greatest gift—His Son Jesus Christ.
Shayal received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift as a teenager in her Hindu village of Vunika. She accepted the invitation to participate in The Greatest Journey, the follow-up discipleship course for children who receive shoebox gifts, and soon accepted Christ as her Savior. The class began to grow to include parents and siblings until a church opened in the village for the very first time. Shayal brought her mother and brother to church where they also became believers. Today she is sharing Christ boldly with her friends at school. She said, “My duty as a child of God is to save lives.”
Three times a week, Pastor “Waisea” Liwaiono walks up to 10 miles one way to villages like Shayal’s to teach The Greatest Journey. He said, “Operation Christmas Child has taken me into rural areas where people haven’t heard the Gospel. We’re talking about Hindus. We’re talking about Muslims. Operation Christmas Child has begun building up churches in these communities.”
After The Greatest Journey started under a mango tree in the Muslim and Hindu community of Laduna, the class began to grow so much that Pastor Waisea said, “I couldn’t stop it.” As a result of investing in these children, today a church of 100 meets under a shelter for worship every week.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,” (Isaiah 52:7, NKJV).
Shoebox gifts are equipping Fijian churches in their outreach. Pastor Kumar said, “Operation Christmas Child gave a new strategy to churches. The churches in Fiji and the South Pacific didn’t have a strategy that really cared for people and that really went and shared the Gospel. The boxes now give churches the privilege and opportunity to take the Gospel to people who do not know Jesus.”
“Thank you for giving us a box.”
Dr. Narayan Nair, founder and principal of the College of Theology and Evangelism in Fiji, was instrumental in bringing Operation Christmas Child to Fiji. He said, “When I get to heaven, I would like to see literally hundreds of children from Fiji and the South Pacific islands there with Jesus. They will say, ‘Thank you for giving us a box. That’s why we’re here.’”
Because caring people take the time to pack shoebox gifts every year, Pastor Waisea said, “Many lives have changed. Families have gotten back together, churches have worked together, and pastors have forgiven each other through Operation Christmas Child.”
In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Gospel opportunities that have come with every shoebox gift in Fiji, more than 4,000 children have participated in The Greatest Journey and their witness continues to multiply. Pastor “Dodo” Bulisovasova said, “My greatest hope is not only for Fiji to be evangelized but at the same time for us to send missionaries abroad.”
This is Fiji’s greatest beauty—transformed souls.