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.
The little girl sat quietly in her seat and hugged the shoebox close to her chest. When it was time to look inside, she slowly opened the lid and stared at the gifts.
As other boys and girls squealed with delight and showed one another their new treasures, Kangeloo continued to sit and stare, unable to take her eyes off the doll that was now hers. Most children in the remote Himba village in Namibia had never played with toys. Their parents are nomadic cattle herders who are often plagued by poverty to the point that it’s not uncommon for the children to eat only one meal a day.
But Kangeloo desperately wanted a doll. Her imagination had become her companion as she would carry around a large stone and pretend that it was her doll, her friend.
Nagee was also excited to see the gifts inside the shoebox given to her son, such as a ball. He had never played with an actual ball; children in the village made “balls” by stuffing plastic inside of socks.
Nagee has prayed for God to meet her family’s needs ever since she became a Christian about two years ago.
Yet, the shoebox outreach event exceeded anything she thought possible. Nagee is grateful to God not only for providing special gifts for her children, but also for the opportunity they had to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
She prays that her children will come to faith in Christ at an early age and will not follow the traditions of their Himba culture by worshipping the spirits of ancestors and trusting in witch doctors.
“I want God to help my children,” Nagee said. “I don’t want them to take the path that I did.”
Nagee and Kangeloo’s village is among many Himba communities that have been reached with the Good News of Christ through Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey, our follow-up discipleship programme for shoebox recipients.
Gatanabe lives in a community a few hours away from Nagee and Kangeloo. Although Gatanabe works hard at a local school, scraping together enough funds to provide for herself and her three children has always been difficult.
She doesn’t get paid much, and sometimes, not even on a regular basis. Gatanabe longs to do more for her family. She is heartbroken every time her children have a need that she can’t meet.
For a while, her youngest daughter, Vetegea, had been pleading with her for a bath towel.
“Every day, she’s asking me to buy her a towel,” Gatanabe said. “She told me that she was praying to God: ‘Please let my mother have a lot of money so she can buy ME A TOWEL.’”
“I know Jesus is my helper. When I pray, He answers,” Gatanabe said. “I see changes in my life.”
Gatanabe and Vetegea’s prayers were answered in a most unexpected way—through the kindness of people they’d never met. During an Operation Christmas Child outreach event in her community, Vetegea received a gift-filled shoebox packed in Jesus’ Name.
Gatanabe was amazed when her daughter came home and proudly showed her the towel that was inside her shoebox. “It’s a blessing,” Gatanabe said.
Vetegea enjoyed many other gifts in the shoebox, such as a teddy bear. Still, the towel was by far her favourite, as it represented a tangible answer to prayer from a little girl in a remote, impoverished village in Africa who trusted God.
Gatanabe is excited about Vetegea participating in The Greatest Journey and learning more about the Bible and God’s love. She said that she hopes the discipleship classes will encourage her daughter to continue attending church and growing in her faith. “I want her to be a child of God.”