Operation Christmas Child
Shoebox Gifts Bring Joy to Namibia
20 September 2023
For most of us the story of Creation is familiar, but for remote communities in Mongolia it’s the first time they’re hearing it.
Princess used to worry a lot. The 13-year-old lives with her grandmother and they sometimes don’t have enough food for three meals a day. She rarely sees her parents, who left their remote village for the city in hopes of finding work and securing a better life for their family.
But these days she doesn’t worry as much. Princess heard the Gospel during an Operation Christmas Child outreach event and The Greatest Journey follow-up discipleship classes. She learned about God’s power and love for her and prayed to receive him as her Lord and Saviour.
“I wanted Jesus to save me. Now, I am more confident because He is with me,” she said.
Princess is among many children throughout the Philippines who are coming to faith in Jesus Christ through Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey. They are, in turn, sharing their faith with friends and family. Princess wants her classmates—most of whom have never heard about Jesus—to trust Him. “They should not be afraid because Jesus is there to help them,” she said.
During The Greatest Journey graduation ceremony, Princess recited a number of Bible verses that she had memorised throughout the discipleship classes. She was excited to share what she had learned.
“The children are very engaged. They’re eager to learn the memory verses. It’s the Holy Spirit at work,” said Rosalina, one of The Greatest Journey teachers who discipled Princess.
Rosalina keeps in touch with Princess and others who have graduated from The Greatest Journey because they now attend her church, which hosted the shoebox outreach event and discipleship classes. “These children are the next generation, and I’m very fulfilled seeing them graduate,” she said.
Reaching the next generation with the Gospel is challenging in the Philippines because of the abundance of remote villages. Some, like the one where Mercy and her family lives, is only accessible by ferry.
Mercy’s husband pastors a congregation in a struggling farming community on the island. “They are very poor. Sometimes the children cannot eat,” she said.
The Operation Christmas Child outreach event hosted at their church was a special time for the children. “They were so happy. For most, it’s their first time to receive a gift. Their parents cannot afford to buy even a little toy,” Mercy said.
Although ministry is difficult, Mercy knows that God has called her family to serve Him in this place. The church is already reaching nearby villages with God’s love, and she prays that the recent shoebox outreach event will open more doors for the Gospel.
“We are praying for more souls to be saved because that is our first mission on Earth,” Mercy said. “Everything we have comes from God, and we want to teach children this at a young age.”
Loomis serves at a church that is also ministering in Jesus’ Name among hard-to-reach villages. Her congregation has partnered with other nearby fellowships to host numerous Operation Christmas Child outreach events for boys and girls from remote mountain areas where there are no churches. Most of them have never heard about God or the Bible since they are from villages that practice animism.
Loomis is thrilled that more children are attending church as a result of shoebox outreach events and The Greatest Journey. “It’s our joy as a church to share with them God’s love and God’s Word. I want to convey to them the faith that I have,” she said.
Children’s ministry is especially important to Loomis because she also comes from an animistic background and came to faith in Christ in elementary school. “The Greatest Gift is Jesus,” she said. “I didn’t go back to my old tradition of believing in spirits and animism.”
She prays that God will continue using shoebox gifts to demonstrate His love to boys and girls who desperately need hope.
“We are not only ministering to the children, but we are also ministering to their families,” said Loomis. “This is a Gospel opportunity.”