Operation Christmas Child provides food, toys, and basic necessities to poor and underprivileged children in more than 160 poor countries around the world.
Yet atheists are demanding that a Kansas middle school stop sending giftboxes to poor children because Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization.
Sadly, the Kansas school has yielded to the pressure and has canceled its participation in one of the world’s largest children’s mission projects.
Liberty Middle School in Pratt, Kan. was participating in Operation Christmas Child when the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist legal group, attacked the school and alleged that its charity program “violates basic constitutional principles.”
In a letter to Superintendent Tony Helfrich, the anti-religion activist group demanded that the Pratt School District “cease participation in Operation Christmas Child or taking any other actions promoting Christianity like including religious references over morning announcements.”
The FFRF, which has more than 30,000 members, maintained that “many egregious constitutional violations” were occurring at the school.
But instead of standing up to the godless group, Helfrich bowed to the public pressure, writing in a letter to FFRF that “we are discontinuing that effort upon learning that its mission is more sectarian in nature than we realized.”
“A lot of these groups rely on school authorities being ignorant about their mission,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said of Samaritan’s Purse, which is led by Rev. Franklin Graham, son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham.
Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse sends shoeboxes filled with toys to children all over the world. Each box also includes a booklet that teaches them about the love of Jesus Christ.
Edward Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson, recently told The Christian Post that the shoeboxes – which are supported and filled by churches, schools and charity organizations all over the country – reach more children and people than the massive crusades and evangelistic events that his grandfather held for more than four decades.
“More kids have heard about Christ through these shoebox distributions than ever heard about Christ in stadiums with my grandfather,” said Edward Graham, vice president of programs and government relations at Operation Christmas Child.
But FFRF, which opposes any affiliation between religious organizations and schools or government, calls Samaritan’s Purse a “pervasively sectarian religious organization.”
It claims that Operation Christmas Child is using school staff and resources “to convert people to Christianity,” violating “basic constitutional principles.”
“While it is laudable for a public school to promote student involvement in the community by volunteering and donating to charitable organizations, the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to fund a religious organization with a religious mission,” FFRF stated in its letter to the school.
“Certainly, there are other secular nonprofit organizations that offer charitable opportunities.”
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said the organization does not solicit support and participation directly from schools.
“Anybody can participate … this is just children there at the school that did this on their own and got their school involved,” Graham said on Fox News.
After the school pulled its support and stopped participating in Operation Christmas Child, Graham said he encouraged students at the school to send gifts directly to the ministry instead.
“I want every child that gets a box to know that God loves them and that he cares for them,” Graham said.
“We don’t hide the fact that we’re Christians. … It’s on our website, we’re very upfront about our … position and our faith.”
Though the FFRF claims to support charitable organizations, it clearly only supports those that align with its political and atheist views.
Graham says that for more than 40 years, Samaritan’s Purse has “done our utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering.”
“We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, earns us a hearing for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
Operation Christmas Child reaches children in more than 50 remote regions of the world, including many poor villages in Africa.
Graham said the operation takes great pride in providing toys like soccer balls or dolls to underprivileged children that don’t have enough food, running water or other basic life necessities.
“Everywhere around the world they know what a soccer ball is. If you pack one and a kid gets to see that and open it up, there is joy, and it’s great to see that child smile,” Graham said in a recent interview with The Christian Post.
“These kids have nothing. They’ve never seen a toy, they’ve never been a part of something like that.”
But according to Graham, the children and their families get something much greater than a toy or a smile.
“The shoebox is a nice gift, where you get to show the love of Jesus Christ through a simple gift, a box of toys to a child that’s never had anything, especially during a time of pandemic where the world’s been shut off and kids are scared and they don’t know what’s going around in the world around them.”
“In a place of that fear, to be able to say, ‘Hey, we love you. God loves you, here’s a gift.’
“But on top of that gift, we do a Gospel presentation to everyone … [and] a child clearly hears the Gospel and gets to understand that story.”
Unfortunately, atheist groups like FFRF are doing everything they can to stop organization’s like Samaritan’s Purse from sharing God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Samaritan’s Purse and missions like Operation Christmas Child. You can support the organization at samaritanspurse.org.