Published December 2, 2015

My Grander Vision for Namibia | Introducing Children to the Love of Jesus



Tobi Nel 2Tobi Nel is a pastor in Walvis Bay, a small desert town in Namibia at the southern point of Africa, next to South Africa. Twelve years ago, they started a church and it was there in Walvis Bay that the GLS first came to Namibia.

Tobi describes his country as being very big country of about 15 million square kilometers, but very scarcely populated. “It’s a desert country, so there are about 2.2 million people in the whole country. The capitol city only has approximately 400,000 people, and in my town, there are only about 90,000 people. It’s a wonderful, peace-loving country, and very diverse in its cultures and languages.”

GLS Namibia is Born

In 2007, a business friend, a member of Tobi’s church, came to Tobi and invited him to the GLS in Chicago. “The experience changed my life and my ministry,” says Tobi. “It also changed our church. In 2008, we decided to host the GLS in Namibia. It was our first Summit, and first experience our that kind that we had as a church. In the first year, 100 volunteers eagerly served and from then on, things snow balled. We saw growth and wonderful opportunities for our country.”

The Impact – Introducing Jesus, and breaking down barriers

Tobi says he will always remember their first Summit in 2008. “I remember the very first person who came close to Christ because of the Summit. It happened outside in the parking lot. He was an attorney, and he didn’t want to come or join, but some of his friends had invited him and pressured him to attend. He decided to come, but unwillingly. When he arrived, he looked out the window of his car, and saw a guy he knew helping with parking services, and wondered what this guy was doing on a Friday morning outside his vehicle with a security coat on. He asked him, ‘What are you doing here? Why aren’t you at your practice?’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m serving here at the GLS. And my role is to welcome you as our guest.’

That changed the attorney’s heart. With that he decided he was going to commit himself to this process, and walked across the road and into the church. He opened his life to Jesus. Since then, I’ve been hearing about his progress in Christ. It’s very exciting.”

Not only are people coming to Christ as a result of the GLS being in Namibia, but it is also having an impact on the culture. Tobi describes how racial barriers in Namibia have broken down because of the GLS. “We are a diverse country, and we see black and white people coming to the GLS together,” says Tobi. “Something amazing happens when we all worship together. Denominational barriers break down. One pastor from one denomination will go to the next, and just reach out their hand and say, ‘We are in this together. We share the same vision. ‘”

A Grander Vision for Children at Walvis Bay


It was at the first GLS in Nambia that Tobi’s church grasped onto a grander vision that has changed his church. In 2008, Gary Haugen said, “If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God.” It stuck. “We sat down as a team and realized that children matter to God,” says Tobi. “So we chose a path and decided to lead in areas where vulnerable children are involved. We’ve seen miraculous things happen when we lead in things that matter to God.”

Children are so impressionable. They are like sponges, and take things in so easily. They are so thankful for the small things you do for them. “That’s part of the work we do,” says Tobi. “We reach out to vulnerable children. In Africa, there are millions of children who grow up without parents. There are millions of children who go to bed without anything to eat. We work with the orphaned, vulnerable children. It’s amazing when you put something in their hand – a plate of food, a sandwich, and you can say that, ‘We are sharing this with the love of Jesus. We are not just trying to fill you up, but the good news is that Jesus loves you.’ I love it.”

Expanding the GLS in Namibia

People don’t have to cross the ocean to attend the Summit. “We started doing the GLS in 2008,” says Tobi, “and we saw the need to expand the GLS to more cities in our country. In 2009, our venue was full months in advance, and we knew we would have to take it to the capitol, which we did, and we’ve been doing it there since. We also took the GLS to the north, into a very poor part of our country. Our dream is to take it to even more people, including into schools, and sports teams. We partnered with major banks, and so over the last three years we’ve been taking the GLS throughout the year to different schools and sporting teams. We are taking it where ever we can. This is part of our grander vision, to make the GLS available to as many people as possible in our beautiful country.”

Join us in praying for and supporting humble leaders like Tobi Nel, with a huge heart for his country and sharing the love of Jesus. Leaders like Tobi are changing lives in Africa.


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About the Author(s)
Global Leadership Network

Global Leadership Network

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