A woman named Vicki responded to my last post about Operation Christmas Child, another attempt by Franklin Graham and his evangelistic machine to reach poor kids this season with the gospel of Christ (slipped in with toys and a flashlight). I essentially said that I find their gift of shoeboxes a disrespectful and dishonest way to save the souls of children who don’t need saving, except from poverty and the manipulations of adults with another agenda.
Here’s what Vicki said, followed by my rather long response:
“I absolutely disagree with you.. and I pray that many children will be saved by the gospel message in these shoeboxes. I made one this year and have done so before, and will do again.. I pray the Lord will open your eyes, and save your soul.”
“Thank you, Vicki, but my eyes are already open (and my mind) and, while I don’t have a “soul” to save, I do have compassion and thoughtfulness. I understand why you would not appreciate my post, but respecting others and telling the truth are important values for me–I’m a little surprised these are not apparently as important to you, or Samaritan’s Purse.
Do you not remember the words of the one you believe in: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God,” or, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”? These words do not have footnotes with qualifications. Does it say the poor or the children need to be “saved” before they can be included in their kingdom? Where does it say they must become Christians or Evangelical Christians or read the Bible or go to Church before the poor or the children are accepted by your God? Where does Jesus say to them, “pray the prayer of repentance” and then you will be blessed or inherit the kingdom that already belongs to you?
I understand evangelism, I used to do that. All I cared about was saving the lost souls, quoting bible verses to everyone, praying for the world to believe in Jesus the way I did. Then, my eyes were indeed opened. . .by learning to respect others enough to listen to them, by working for others rather than merely praying for them, by reading more and finding wisdom in more than just one book, and by appreciating the wonderful gift of a child’s smile, and supporting their health and happiness here and now, without thinking only of their eternal salvation.
Giving to children is wonderful. I’m sure many of the gifts in the shoeboxes are useful. But wouldn’t it be a great “blessing” for you and all those who pack the boxes to learn about the lives of children who live in poverty (even in our own communities), and work to end that poverty, rather than focus on them as “poor souls” to be saved? How could all the time, money and good intentions be used to make a difference in the daily lives of those kids and their future this side of the grave?
I wish you well in this season of sharing. I too think of all the children and their need for food, clothing, adequate shelter, health, education and security. I trust we can agree that we can never neatly package kindness and the goodness of humanity in a shoebox. As you might say, no box is big enough for God. Or, as I would say, no box is big enough for Good!
For all the children.