The unreached Himba people of Namibia now have two churches, six villages have Christian fellowships that meet regularly because of Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. This little box of gifts not only makes glad the heart of the child who receives it, but entire families and communities are changed through the opening of the box.
In the spring of 2016, Samaritan’s Purse held an outreach event for Himba children in the village of Opuwo which means “end of the road” in their language. The chief of Ombaka was present that day and asked for shoebox gifts to also be brought to his village located more than two hours further into the bush. That fall, Pastor Rizera traveled this distance across cow paths and more than six dry river beds to bring Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and the Gospel to the Himba children of Ombaka.
Within two years the number of believers in Ombaka went from zero to 80-plus. This prompted the village chief to dedicate land underneath a prominent tree as a place for the church to meet. The new body of believers met there regularly, but also requested a building so they would continue to have a place to worship during the monsoon season. Working together with Seed Company and the people of Ombaka and Opuwo, Samaritan’s Purse constructed the new church building next to the tree where the congregation originally gathered.
Samaritan’s Purse partnered with Seed Company to translate The Greatest Gift—a Gospel booklet handed out to children along with shoebox gifts—into the Himba text. This unreached people group was amazed to have this printed resource in their language. In addition, since they are primarily an oral culture, the book of Mark and 40 Bible stories from Genesis, Luke, and The Greatest Journey discipleship materials, were also initially translated into Himba and are currently being distributed on 170 solar-powered MP3 players.
As residents in Ombaka and the five surrounding villages heard the Bible stories and masterfully retold them almost word for word, the area was transformed by the power of the Gospel.
Villagers recently dedicated the first church building ever built in the Himba region of Ombaka, Namibia. An ethnic group of 50,000 scattered across Namibia and Angola, the Himba are considered an unreached people group because their population is less than 3 percent evangelical Christian. Although they have long been animists—worshipping their ancestors and tree spirits—more than 80 Himba now gather in the area to regularly worship the Lord Jesus Christ.
Samaritan’s Purse and Seed Company, an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators, have been partnering for several years to see this advance of the Gospel.
Samaritan’s Purse has built a second church building in the Himba community of Otutati. Dedicated on February 27, 2021, this facility is an additional outpost of hope to this unreached people group. The Gospel continues to spread among them through the oral resources supplied through Samaritan’s Purse and Seed Company. These tools especially equipped the pastor of the Otutati church who, like many of the Himba, does not read. We praise God that currently six Himba villages have church fellowships that meet regularly! Pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to be proclaimed among this group that had not heard it before.
In addition to hosting outreach events in more than 100 countries, Samaritan’s Purse is currently working to bring shoebox gifts and the Gospel to more than 110 unreached people groups across 46 nations.
What are shoebox gifts?
Folks are encouraged to get a shoebox from your closet or order a Gospel Opportunity box from Samaritans Purse and pack it.
The boxes are packed with a variety of things. Toys that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), balloons and other simple toys that children enjoy.
School supplies such as pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
Hygiene items such as toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths can be packed.
For older children there are sewing kits, hammer and nails, soccer ball with pump and jewelry.
Other accessories such as t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries) also can go into the box.
PLEASE NOTE, no soldiers or war related items such as knives or guns are allowed and no candy or toothpaste is allowed.
Anyone packing a box is also encouraged to include a note with a photograph.
National Collection week for Operation Christmas Child will be November 14-21. Drop off locations in Pontotoc are at West Heights Baptist Church and Ecru Baptist Church.
Packing a shoebox carries the gospel to the ends of the earth. Won’t you share Jesus’ love with someone today?