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.
Mongolia is a spiritually dark land where Buddhism and cults are common and Christians are scarce.
But a young couple committed to serving Jesus Christ is praying for this to change. Jargalmaa and her husband, Munkh-Erdene, moved with their two young children to Arvaikheer in southern Mongolia because the city is known for being among the most difficult to evangelise.
Jargalmaa and Munkh-Erdene are reaching children with the Gospel through soccer camps, Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, and The Greatest Journey. This wouldn’t have been part of their vision, however, if God hadn’t dramatically used a gift-filled shoebox in Jargalmaa’s life 14 years ago.
Jargalmaa thought it was just another school day when her teacher made a surprising announcement. She told the class that a local church was hosting a special event and that they were all invited.
She didn’t know it at the time, but the Operation Christmas Child outreach she attended at age 7 would change the rest of her life.
“It was such an exciting day. There was worship, and there were so many children,” she said. “When I received my gift, it had everything.”
Jargalmaa rejoiced over her first gift ever. The pretty stationery inside would be immediately put to use in the upcoming school year. Her favourite item was a set of hair clips that she proudly showed to her classmates and even shared with her teacher.
Now, as an adult, Jargalmaa still looks back on that day with fond memories. “I can vividly remember the excitement I had when I opened the box for the first time. I also found a letter in my shoebox and it said, ‘You are valuable and so loved by God.’ That was an important message to me. Even today, it is so close to my heart.”
That simple letter influenced Jargalmaa because neither her parents nor grandparents had ever told her that they loved her. Yet, now she knew that God loved her unconditionally.
Jargalmaa also attended The Greatest Journey, the Samaritan’s Purse discipleship course designed specifically for shoebox recipients. She learned that God created the world and everything in it—a new concept for a child growing up in a culture steeped in Buddhism.
Jargalmaa became very curious about the Bible and began going to church to learn more. Although some of Jargalmaa’s classmates teased her because she went to church, she didn’t let that stop her from growing in the knowledge of God.
As Jargalmaa continued attending church and learning more about God’s Word, she knew she wanted to commit her life to following Jesus Christ. “I decided to accept Him as my Father and Saviour.”
She began teaching other children The Greatest Journey Bible lessons and sharing her faith with family and friends. “I realised that I have to be light and salt and be a good example,” she said.
Two of her close friends soon became believers. Through Jargalmaa’s testimony, her father, sister, younger brother, grandmother, and great-grandmother also professed Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.
After graduating high school, Jargalmaa attended a discipleship school and then joined the staff upon completion of her studies. This is where she met her future husband, Munkh-Erdene.
After they were married, Jargalmaa and Munkh-Erdene were ready to devote their lives to serving God together. Although they knew Arvaikheer would be a challenging place to serve and witness, the couple was not deterred—God had called them and they would obey.
They are praying for the Lord to help them start a church in their community. Jargalmaa and Munkh-Erdene are hosting soccer camps and inviting the children to also participate in Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey, where many will hear for the first time that God created them and wants to have a relationship with them.
“Receiving a shoebox, I felt the joy and the value God puts on my life,” Jargalmaa said. “I understood that everybody in the world is valuable to God.”
She wants to show God’s love to children like her who have never received gifts or felt loved. And she is eager for others to join her in Gospel outreach.
“I would like to challenge people who are preparing shoebox gifts to also write a letter showing God’s love,” Jargalmaa said. “What’s written there may be very simple, but those simple words could completely change somebody’s life.”
And, there’s no telling how God will use a changed life.