Operation Christmas Child grooms children for Christianity
It’s that time of year. As you enter a business, your child’s school, your church or your office you may see the bright green and red boxes labeled Operation Christmas Child Samaritan’s Purse.
For several years I joyfully gave to Operation Christmas Child. I appreciated the sense of generosity and social connection that was inspired by packing the boxes and I was happy to think that I was putting a smile on a child’s face.
Last year, an article in the Lacombe Globe regarding the Samaritan’s Purse nudged me to do further research regarding this program. I found out that Samaritan’s Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides aid to people in physical need as a key of Christian missionary work and Operation Christmas Child is just one of the many humanitarian endeavours it undertakes.
The information on the website said that as children were given the boxes, they also receive a booklet called The Greatest Gift and invited to attend a 12-lesson Bible study which introduces children to Jesus, shows them how to receive Him and follow Him and equips them to share their faith with family and friends. In my opinion, offering children gift-laden shoeboxes followed by an invitation to a 12-week discipleship program can be viewed as grooming young minds to accept the Christian message.
Christian missionaries of several different denominations have come to my door to share their beliefs and vision of God. I respect those individuals for having the courage in espousing their beliefs. Never have they asked if they could give gifts to the youngsters in the house or even speak to them. Never have the youngsters received an invitation to meet 12 more times with these adults. Why is it acceptable for Samaritan’s Purse delegates to target children within other counties when this practice would be unacceptable in Canada?
The findings of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commissions were released in 2016 and it exposed the grisly details of Residential Schools, the destruction of Indigenous culture and beliefs and the forced conversion of thousands of children to Christianity. It is evident that the paternalistic, colonial attitudes that sanctioned the targeting of vulnerable children still prevail and that I may have been contributing to the process.
While Operation Christmas Child may put a smile on children’s faces, I will look to support organizations that deliver products of sustained value to children like polio immunizations, HIV drugs, education, food and fresh water.
- Evelyn Lockhart