SIM Namibia brings joy through Christmas shoeboxes
By Annabelle Lee | Namibia in Southern Africa
A schoolboy beams with joy as he receives an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Photo SIM Namibia
SIM’s teams work with some excellent charitable projects to reach communities where Christ is least known. One of the projects our team in Namibia works with is Operation Christmas Child (OCC).
Each year, SIM Namibia encourages people to each fill a shoebox with items from calculators to clothes, toothbrushes to toys. Linda Pretorius (Regional Coordinator for OCC in Namibia) manages the transport and volunteers as it is very demanding to arrange the logistics of delivering the boxes.
In April, SIM Namibia delivered 7,200 boxes. The children’s faces were beaming as they opened their boxes to discover what people had bought them!
OCC began in the summer of 1993. Franklin Graham (son of evangelist Billy Graham) received a call from a local businessman in the UK who asked if he would help fill shoeboxes with gifts for children affected by the Bosnian war. A few months on, Franklin asked his pastor friend if his church would help. Weeks later, the church received 11,000 boxes. And since 1993, over 178 million OCC boxes have been delivered in over 70 countries. The shoebox is used to show children receiving the gospel cannot be earned, but it is a free gift – a tangible expression of God’s unconditional love.
SIM Namibia have seen that the shoeboxes are often a testament to the Lord’s provision. One child wanted a dress, as she had never had one. The girl was very tall and Linda did not want her to be disappointed if she did not get something the right size. But, there in the shoebox was a dress that fitted her perfectly!
What’s more, the boxes give the team an opportunity to follow up with children at schools, Sunday schools and youth clubs. Each child follows a 12-week programme where teachers share the gospel. At the end of the course, the students give a gospel presentation to their teachers and parents and recite 12 memory verses – more than some adults know!
In an area where there is a lot of fighting, the behaviour of children who have followed the course often improves radically. Linda also recalls meeting a young man at her local supermarket who gave his life to the Lord because of OCC. He now has a family and, in turn, his children are receiving shoeboxes!
OCC is a testament to the Holy Spirit working in the children’s lives.
Watch a video about Operation Christmas Child by Michael Knight, SIM Namibia.
•For the individuals, churches, businesses and schools (mainly in the USA) who fill shoeboxes out of generosity and kindness, reflecting God’s love.
•The SIM Namibia staff, volunteers and lorry drivers who give up their time to deliver the boxes across the country.
•The way OCC has inspired many children to open their hearts to the gospel and follow Jesus.