December 11, 2018
To the editor:
I am a missionary in Haiti. I am familiar with the problems as described in the article Stuffing Shoe boxes for the world’s poor? Maybe you should reconsider. I do not, however, agree with most of the article.
My organization (But God Ministries) works in many ways to elevate poverty and create sustainability, but that doesn’t happen overnight and it is not something that you just choose to do INSTEAD of giving a Christmas gift to a child. We have a child sponsorship program that gives education and food to children in a village that is very poor and has for years been completely dependent upon agriculture that is susceptible to drought. Sponsorship gives a new generation of children opportunities for a more varied and sustainable future. We also create jobs and teach trades and skills to people and help them start their own business. We do all of that.
The problem I have with this article is the “red flags” that come up in my spirit when the writer calls OCC “toxic,” claims that Franklin Graham “spews hate” about immigrants, insinuates that Samaritan’s Purse just goes about giving handouts and useless gifts to people. These are three claims in this article that cause me to question its intent and validity. The writer even brings in the topic of LGBT which has nothing to do with the topic of the article.
The truth is, giving a child a Christmas gift one time a year is not toxic. Most organizations that participate in this take the time to show children the use of things unfamiliar as the child opens the gift. Our organization encourages giving hygiene products, school supplies, food items like dried beans and rice, and even a little money for this one time of year when the whole world emphasizes the gift of giving. Participating in events such as these teaches participating children in America that there are children in the world who are not as privileged as they are, and generosity is a blessing. It plants seeds of generosity and awareness that eventually turn to bigger things like participating in missions, helping in their own communities, sponsoring a child in a sponsorship program, or even becoming a full-time missionary.
People are so quick to pass judgment upon people and other organizations and then write these grandiose articles that spread their inaccurate judgments causing people to question their act of kindness and give them an excuse to not do anything at all! There are many branches of Samaritan’s Purse (the mother organization to OCC) that are not mentioned here and that do promote sustainability and job creation. OCC is just a small “activity” designed to get people involved in giving and missions through one event. OCC is an event, not a program or an organization in and of itself, and there’s nothing wrong with it. This article shames people into doing nothing when something little like sending a gift can lead to participating in something bigger later.
Franklin Graham and the organization he leads, Samaritan’s Purse, are usually the first people on the ground offering aid through disaster relief when tragedy strikes. Volunteers give of their time, skills, and resources to help others in crisis, which is a huge need as everyone knows. I dare say that many of those volunteers at one time or another in their lives packed a little box to give a Christmas gift to a child in another country, and this small act of giving eventually led to a great act of helping. This article does not offer suggestions as to how to create jobs instead of giving a gift. It only shames the giver and bashes the creator of the program. Yes, jobs and sustainability need to be taught, but so does generosity and kindness. These are seeds that lead to bigger acts that eventually led people like me to the mission field where we are creating sustainability and education and life-saving education.
There’s a bigger picture that this article does not portray. There’s nothing wrong with giving a child a gift at Christmas.
Galette Chambon, Ganthier – Haiti