Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christians censoring the Gospel

I don't know if you should call it censoring or not, but Samaritan's Purse has banned any religious materials from being included with their Operation Christmas Child. project this year.
Seems a bit odd doesn't it? A program run by Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, is removing any and all religious messages from shoeboxes destined for children around the world.
According to the Daily Mail Samaritan's Purse has banned any religious items from the boxes, including Bible stories, images of Jesus and any other religious items (though these don't make the list of other banned items on their web site, which also includes war-related toys, chocolate or food, breakables, medicine and liquids).
Some are saying it's political correctness to the extreme.
But I say its sharing the Gospel in a tangeable way.Kevin at CMS says:
it's part of making sure the message gets through. They need to respect local cultures where the boxes will be distributed--which are often primarily Muslim. Giving a Jesus doll to a Muslim boy could cause problems on the scale of a certain cartoon that caused worldwide riots. Samaritan's Purse hopes the simple act of giving will speak for itself, followed up by the ongoing interaction with the organization. The idea is that there will be other, better avenues to spread its message, so they voluntariy opt not to put the message in the shoeboxes. Instead the shoebox itself is the message.
So is it political correctness gone amuck? (Seriously? Since when was Franklin Graham politically correct?) Or is it a good example of carefully considering when and how to communicate the gospel?
I think this is a good reminder that sometimes people need their physical needs met before they'll be willing to listen to you tell them about their spiritual needs.
After being in Nigeria for two weeks I can see both sides of it.
I can see people being turned off by anything that’s Christian and thinking you’re shoving it down their throat.
I’m sure its from previous experiences that led them to their decision.
I would hate to know a young child’s toys or whatever was taken away because their parents saw something about Jesus in it.
The parents may be very strict and look at it as, “Oh here come the Christians trying to convert us again.”
When people see you genuinely care about them without always trying to convert them I think it means much more.
How does this play into our daily lives?


Michael Robinson said...

I think your last sentence prior to the question hit the nail squarely on it's head.

Anonymous said...

Just thought you might like to see a response that I received from Samaritan's Purse when I inquired on this issue. ------

Thank you for expressing your concern about the newspaper article published recently in United Kingdom. The article stated that Christian literature is banned from gift-filled shoe boxes donated to Operation Christmas Child. Please be assured that the commitment of Samaritan's Purse to evangelism is as strong as ever.

Christian literature is not banned from Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes in the United Kingdom or any other sending country. However, there is a difference in the way the boxes are processed in the U.K. for overseas shipment. The U.K. program removes all religious items (Christian as well as other religions) and forwards any Christian literature to our National Leadership Teams working in countries where shoe box gifts are distributed, so the Christian literature can be used with children through the local church.

Samaritan's Purse staff in the U.K. is dedicated, as we all are, to ensuring that Christian literature given by donors is used in effective ministry outreach to children through Operation Christmas Child.

The Gospel is also presented locally as part of the distribution of the gifts, and wherever possible, children are offered a Gospel storybook written in their own language called The Greatest Gift of All. Many children are also invited to enroll in a 10-lesson follow-up Bible study program, and upon completion receive a New Testament as a graduation gift.

In the United States, Christian literature remains inside the shoe box gifts given by donors. We are developing and implementing standard operating procedures to ensure that this practice is followed in the U.K. and other sending countries.

It grieves us that this article has caused confusion at this particularly crucial time for Operation Christmas Child in the United States, as National Collection Week began Monday, November 13. On behalf of Franklin Graham, we thank you for writing and expressing your concerns.

We invite you to please join us in prayer for Operation Christmas Child.
Soon we will be delivering 7.8 million shoe box gifts to hurting boys and girls in over 90 countries around the world. Each box can make an eternal difference in the life of a child!


Donor Ministries
Samaritan's Purse
PO Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607