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Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Operation Christmas Child: Christian Fundamentalism in a Box

Posted by keith on November 18th, 2010

Operation Christmas Child convert christian samaritan's purse

Somewhere in the minds of millions of children there exists a place where Christmas is every day, and gifts appear beneath the eternal tree and at the foot of the magical fireplace whenever their back is turned. In the hearts of millions of children the joy of giving is equally precious as the joy of being the recipient of gifts, given in good faith and without prejudice. This Christmas as every Christmas for the last 20 years, the organisation called Operation Christmas Child has been hard at work across the world persuading children, along with their parents, to pack a shoebox with simple things to provide a seasonal present to someone without the financial ability (or desire) to have such things.

In the UK, the message is clear:

Operation Christmas Child is the largest children’s Christmas project in the world, run by the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse. In 2010, we celebrate 20 years of this special shoebox appeal, which has already brought joy into the lives of over 80 million children worldwide.

In its simplest form, it is all about a gift – given by you to a child in need. You wrap and pack it, we check and send it, and our partners overseas deliver it. It’s that simple.

Last year, over 500,000 people from right across the UK and Ireland got involved – including many churches, schools and workplaces. Children and adults alike wrapped and packed almost 1.2 million shoeboxes (from the UK) and over 200,000 (from Ireland) full of gifts and goodies, which were then sent to orphans and vulnerable children living in often difficult circumstances overseas

This is a message of God’s love allowing those with to help those without. Ok, so there is the matter of this being a Christian charity: “For the past 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has shown that there’s power in a simple gift. It has grown to become the largest Christmas shoebox appeal in the UK, demonstrating God’s love in a tangible way to millions of children around the world.” But who are we to begrudge believers the ability to be generous from their heart.

And now the American version:

8 MILLION CHILDREN received your shoe boxes last year

OVER 130 COUNTRIES have received shoe boxes since 1993

ONE MISSION: To demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Same organisation, different wording: now it is a mission, with the aim of spreading The Word. I guess the USA has a greater tolerance to Evangelism than the UK for, make no mistake, that is what Operation Christmas Child is about. For a few years a small group of people have been trying to make this clear to the millions of children and adults who take part in the scheme that the “gift” being sent by the parent organisation Samaritan’s Purse, is not the box, but the message that comes with the box. Here’s a frame from that message:

It is the stated aim of Samaritan’s Purse that wherever possible the booklet “The Most Important Story Ever Told” is to be enclosed in or accompany every shoebox – that is why the boxes are not allowed to be sealed prior to shipment: so that the literature can be enclosed where the destination country has deemed it acceptable. Of course, even if the destination country doesn’t allow the booklet inside, it will be sent with the box. As OCC Alert UK was told, when posing as a supporter:

Greetings from Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

You are correct in your assumption that “The Most Important Story Ever Told” and “The Greatest Gift Of All” are basically one in the same. Samaritan’s Purse has adopted this version for distribution with each shoebox gift as a tool for evangelism. Should you need additional assistance, please let us know. It is because of caring people like you that this project is so successful. Have a blessed day!


Jessica Tabler
Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan’s Purse
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
(828)262-1980 ext. 1493

Despite the nice words of OCC in the UK, the shoebox is a tool for evangelism.

Now let’s suppose you are the kind of person who maybe tolerates, or even welcomes, the conversion of non-Christians into Christians; after all, it is the duty of a Christian to convert others to their faith. What would you think if I told you that the organisation responsible for Operation Christmas Child views all other beliefs as “dark”, to the extent that people who do not follow the particular form of Evangelical Christianity espoused by their leader, Franklin Graham, are accused of witchcraft and occultism?

This excerpt from the newsletter of October 2009 makes me feel sick:

I’d like to share with you just one story about what God did in a little village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mimbulu is a collection of mud-brick houses and thatched huts with no electricity or running water. Most of the villagers are subsistence farmers living on far less than $1 a day. You can imagine how happy and excited the children were when our team handed out shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Later, hundreds of girls and boys signed up for our Discipleship Program, and most of them made commitments to Jesus Christ through the Bible study course.

Traditional religions and occult practices are common in this part of Africa, but many people in Mimbulu have been delivered from spiritual darkness as a result of this evangelistic outreach. Three girls, all under the age of 10, confessed to being involved in witchcraft, repented of their sins, and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. One cult leader, after reading his son’s Bible lessons, renounced his false religion and surrendered his life to the Lord. Other adults turned to Christ at the graduation ceremony where they heard their children recite Scripture and listened to a pastor preach the Gospel.

The Lord is doing great things in Mimbulu, and we give Him all the glory!

We treat every single gift box as a Gospel opportunity. That’s why prayer is the most important thing we ask people to do when they pack their shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We want each person to pray for the child who receives the box and ask God to touch that child’s heart. That’s where the real power of Operation Christmas Child lies—in God’s answers to those millions of heartfelt prayers.

Next time someone asks you to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, or your child receives a letter home from school asking for a “gift to make a child happy”, think about the level of hardline fundamental evangelism being foisted upon people whose only “sin” was to have their own cultural beliefs. Do you really want to be responsible for that?

8 Responses to “Operation Christmas Child: Christian Fundamentalism in a Box”

  1. Songmorning Says:

    Are you really doing this out of love for the children who might otherwise receive these gifts? Quite honestly, if there was a child who would have received an Operation Christmas Child gift if not for this, what would they think? Would they be happy that they were protected from being prosylitized to? If they knew the whole story–everything you wrote and quoted here–do you think they would be grateful or disappointed?

    As for saying their “only sin was to have their own cultural beliefs,” that wasn’t what the quote from Samaritain’s Purse meant at all. The phrase “repented of their sins” doesn’t refer specifically to witchcraft, but rather whatever sins they may have committed–the everyday sort that everyone commits (and I mean Christians too). That’s why a sincere Christian can’t say he’s better than a non-Christian…Nothing but sheer grace from Christ has saved him, he knows, so he isn’t somehow better than others. Also, Christianty isn’t focused on repentance: it’s focused on a relationship with Christ. Repentance is just the way to get to Christ because if you think you’re perfect already, you won’t look for Him at all.

    Now, if you have a problem with the phrase “surrendered his life to the Lord,” I think I should try to explain what that’s like. It’s practical and wonderful. Practical because God knows what’s best, and wonderful because you grow more and more receptive of Christ’s love. No one does become completely surrendered to God before Heaven, but the more someone is the more happy, carefree, and loving he becomes (I know because I’m trying it).

    Also, Christianity is the only religion that isn’t cultural. Buddhism is assocciated with India and oriental countries, Islam is associated with the middle east, and Atheism is associated with modern industrialized countries, but Christianity has been compatable with African, Indian, Oriental, Hispanic, Ancient Roman, and modern nations without affecting the actual culture in any way. Take music, for example. You have Gregorian Chant, hymns, Christian rock, and Christian contemporary, and if you go to another country (I’ve been to churchs in Ecuador and Russia), you’ll find the people singing Christian songs in their own language with their own style.

    I might also apologise to Mr. Farnish in particular for the people using caps lock at you on the Samaritain’s Purse page. Plus, in the Bible, the word “fool” doesn’t mean “idiot” or “nincompoop,” it means “one who ruins his life by sinning and not trying to stop.” So if anyone quoted verses using the word “fool” with the intent to insult you, they were not only rude, they were using a verse inaccurately. -_-” (I’m Jessica on Facebook.)

  2. EG Says:

    Samaritan’s Purse UK:
    Samaritan’s Purse US:
    The American version admits that they use Operation Christmas Child boxes to recruit children for this program. The UK version has the same program. I wonder how they recruit children for it?
    “When TGJ is delivered in locations where an Operation Christmas Child distribution has taken place, then at some point after distribution of shoeboxes, children who received a copy of The Greatest Gift of All may be invited to participate in TGJ by local churches and ministry partners.” Quote from the British Samaritan’s Purse’s website.

    I posted that on the British OCC Facebook page and the administrator deleted it. See here:!/topic.php?uid=127503852028&topic=14673

  3. keith Says:

    Hi Julia

    Thank you for spending the time to write. I would ask just two questions:

    1) Do you think that a child is a sinner from birth? If not, at what point do they start being a sinner, for that’s what the booklet is saying happens.

    2) Given that spritual beliefs are at the core of the culture of the vast majority of indigenous tribes, how is it possible for a non-Christian tribe to remain “whole” under the influence of Christianity? Perhaps you would like to reflect on the fate of the Taino people of Haiti, before you suggest the cultural neutrality of Christianity. I also recommend you read this link:


  4. Songmorning Says:

    (My name’s Jessica, but I’m quite certain you’re referring to me because there’s only three posts here :])

    I’m glad you’re so polite, if I may say so. I haven’t found many polite people on the Internet.

    1) Yes, I do believe a child is a sinner from birth. I believe that everyone inherited sinfulness from Adam. However, I don’t believe that aborted babies or babies who die before they can understand anything will go to Hell, because that’s not in keeping with God’s character. God is sure to give everyone a clear-cut chance to accept Jesus at some point.

    2) I’m only 16, so I haven’t been able to do particularly in-depth research on this myself; I read about it in “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. In the book, under this topic, he quotes and African man, Lamin Sanneh: “Christianity answered this historical challenge by a re-orientation of the worldview…People sensed in their hearts that Jesus did not mock their respect for the sacred not their clamor for an invincible Savior, and so they beat their sacred drums for him until the stars skipped and danced in the skies. After that dance the stars weren’t little anymore. Christianity helped Africans become renewed Africans, not re-made Europeans.”

    I think the reason for this was stated by J.R.R. Tolkien. He once told C.S. Lewis that myths sprung from a longing in all people’s hearts for Jesus. He said that in myths there are memories of the world at creation, a recognition of the tragedy in life and hopes in the promise of redemption. In the Gospel of Christ all elements of truth in those myths come to full realization in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

    That is, I believe, how a person of any religion and culture can believe in Jesus without harming the culture. (I’m getting into my own thoughts here) Whatever religion they had before contained longings for Christ, and Jesus is actually the fulfillment of those longings. Plus, there’s no right way to worship Jesus. We don’t have to face a certain direction to pray, or only sing certain hymns. The wild (and wonderful) religious rituals of distant tribes can be directed toward Jesus, and the only things that have to be lost are horrible things like child sacrifice. Also, it seems to me that since distant tribes are out in nature with no modern bustling influence would actually find it easier to worship Jesus because there aren’t so many distractions, and it’s out in Creation.

    It wasn’t really a “Christian culture” that Columbus came from, then, because any culture can be Christian (despite the tendancy for Ben Gunn in “Treasure Island” to call cheese Christian food XP). Columbus came from a modern culture, and he apparently had the same racial prejudices that kept black men oppressed for years. Whatever superiority Columbus felt to the Taino people–perhaps using his Christianity as an excuse–didn’t come from Jesus. Jesus clearly demonstrated his love for all people by going mostly to the socially unaccepted people of His time and not so much to people held in high honor.

    I read everything from that link you posted. I never knew that there were still people contracting diseases from modern visitors. :( I doubt the missionaries mentioned did either, and they must’ve been shocked when they found out. I don’t think they really consulted Jesus before making contact. They probably assumed it was the right thing to do. However, I’ve noticed that sometimes when I intend to do something that I think would be clearly for the cause of Christ, I’ll ask Jesus about it, and he’ll say “no, don’t do that.” Now I think I know why: there’s some reason that I don’t know about, but He does. That’s what the diseases spread to the tribes were like.

    As a better way to share the Gospel with uncontacted tribes, then, I would suggest to other Christians that people from modernized countries shouldn’t go out to them themselves. Rather, natives of the country should go–like Moses Banda, an African pastor that my family sponsors. That way, no one would spread an unknown disease to the people there. It wasn’t Christianity that caused the problems from the missionaries: rather, it was viruses and the ignorance of not knowing they were immune to viruses that the people there were not immune to. I think Samaritan’s Purse would be aware of these dangers so they would have safeguards against them.

    Thinking about this further, I rather object to Operation Christmas Child’s tone that seems to downsize the culture itself. They could have chosen their words better. However, I don’t believe their words or even some (surely not all) of the workers attitudes can taint the good God can work through Operation Christmas Child. Whatever may happen along the way, I sent my gift with love and no condescending feelings, and I think that’s what God will work through. And I honestly don’t believe that there are many Samaritan’s Purse workers that actually do feel condescension and superiority to the children they distribute the gifts to. I think they honestly want to do it for their happiness, and I can’t imagine feeling anything less than love for the three young girls formerly involved in witchcraft (though it just seems wrong for the writers of that article to mention that especially).

    By the way, Mr. Farnish, I read your page on “Climate Change Denial.” (did you write that?) I found it very (and, I admit, surprisingly) thought-provoking. I agree now that global warming shouldn’t be a political issue at all…It should be a scientific one. I always have thought of global warming politically and, as a conservative, I rejected it (XD). I still don’t believe that the earth is actually warming, but I’m hoping to look into the issue with no political strings attached. I’m a little tired of hearing the phrase “overwhelming evidence” without actually seeing clear-cut presentations of the evidence. I have always believed, however, that local climates can be destroyed by pollution, so it seems to me that if everyone focused on making their local environment pleasanter, we wouldn’t have to worry about the overall environment at all. ^_^

  5. keith Says:

    Hi Jessica, sorry got your name wrong in a rush.

    I will leave your comment to speak for itself, no need for me to respond further as the moment you said that “a child is a sinner from birth” I knew we occupied entirely different worlds.

    Kind regards


  6. keith Says:

    N.B. Just on a point of accuracy. Re. child sacrifice: “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.” (Exo 22:29-30)

  7. Songmorning Says:

    Mr. Farnish,

    You think that means child sacrifice! God made it very clear–in the Old Testament especially–that He detests child sacrifice. I can’t count the number of times in the Old Testament that God stated one of the most important reasons that a religion or king was repulsive in His eyes for sacrificing children. I can’t find a particular verse because the phrase I’m looking for isn’t in the concordance (and it’s not the sort of verse I’d memorize), but it generally goes along the lines of “And (so-and-so person or religion) did evil in the eyes of the LORD, sacrificing even their children in high places.”

    In addition to this, every kind of sacrifice described in the Bible has very clearly-laid-out instructions for how to do it. I’ve read quite a bit of Old Testament by now, and I haven’t seen anything of the sort about children.

    I think rather the phrase, “give Me the firstborn of your sons” refers to something more like the baby dedications we do in church today. At the beginning of the Bible book 1 Samuel, a woman named Hannah promised to give her firstborn son to the Lord (using the exact phrase “give him to the LORD”). Well, when Samuel was born, she didn’t take him and sacrifice him on an alter, rather she brought him to the temple so that he could serve the LORD there “all the days of his life.”

    You might also argue with God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. However, it was very clear in this passage that God didn’t actually intend for Abraham to go through with it. The whole scene (Genesis 22:1-19) was described very dramatically and heartbreakingly, and the most intense moment comes in verses 10-12, “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD (another name for the Lord Himself) called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy’ he (the Lord) said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” It was a test of Abraham’s faith–but it wasn’t only a test. It was a prophecy as well, a prophecy of Jesus.

    The only child sacrifice ever that God didn’t detest was that of Jesus Himself. But there were two important differences: first of all, Jesus was willing–He could’ve backed out at any time, but He did it out of love. Second, He rose from the dead. I think God makes it so clear that he detests child sacrifice because He knows what its like, and He doesn’t want parents to endure it. Anyway, the whole point of Jesus’ sacrifice was to atone for sins, and no human child could do that. But there’s no one more compassionate that God, I know that. He invented compassion.


    P.S. Sorry to make such a long comment on such a short note, but it’s extremely important to understanding Christians in general…to understand that God detests human sacrifice.

  8. Andrew Says:

    I usually ignore the xmas stuff, but this one is on my jamming list for 2011 – thanks!

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