7 Reasons Not to Participate in Operation Christmas Child

Category: Personal

Each and every year around this time, thousands of churches around the country participate in an organization called Operation Christmas Child. If you are unfamiliar with Operation Christmas Child, the gist is this: churches distribute pre-printed shoebox-sized cardboard boxes, which are then filled by families with toys, trinkets, and basic necessity items like toothbrushes and shipped off to children in non-first world countries so they can have something to open at Christmas time. Many churches I attended throughout my formative years participated in Operation Christmas Child, and many years my family and I dutifully picked up a few shoeboxes and went to the Dollar General in search of what we thought would bring poor children around the world happiness and joy.

Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that are many, may reasons NOT to participate in Operation Christmas Child, and many alternative organizations you can support that will offer you the opportunity to both truly help someone in need and teach your children about generosity and global poverty, all at the same time.

1. Supporting Operation Christmas Child means supporting the “ministry” of Franklin Graham. And Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, appears to be making a valiant attempt to go down in history as the Donald Trump of theology. He’s also formally and shamelessly endorsed Trump for President, so this is no surprise. His Facebook and Twitter feeds are a never-ending font of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic and otherwise bigoted vitriol. Most of what he has to say is so nonsensically hateful it doesn’t bear repeating—but suffice it to say in the last year since this post has been published Graham has called for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States, boldly proclaimed that the police-enforced lynching of black and brown men and women by the state is a result of their failure to comply with orders, led hundreds of thousands of followers in a boycott of Target not once but twice in an attempt to bully the company into conformity with his conservative gender roles and sexual ethic, and so many more—worse—things.

In short, Graham is a complete embarrassment to those who claim the name of Jesus in particular and religion in general, and he should step down and receive intense spiritual and pastoral counseling—not the largest salary for the CEO of any relief charity based in the USA.

Now, for me, this is enough. I don’t want to support anything that furthers the influence of someone like Franklin Graham. But for others, they are willing to overlook Graham’s “shortcomings” because “it’s such a good ministry” and “it helps children.”

And that would be great. If it were actually true. However:

2. The children these shoeboxes are going to do not actually need or have use for many of the things they contain. In fact, in many cases, they do not even know what to do with them! Sure, toothbrushes and the like are universal necessities. But beyond that, many shoeboxes get filled with with cheap, easily breakable trinkets and toys that adults, let alone children, in these countries do not even know how to use. I have even heard stories of gloves, scarves, and hats being sent in boxes to children in countries where it never snows! Joelle McNamara, a former classmate of mine and founder of Kenya-based non-profit Badala, had this to say:

“Toys don’t play as large of a role in East African culture as it does ours, so there really isn’t any need to send them by the container full, because the actual result is comically anticlimactic: African kids trying to figure out what to do with American toys, and then adult African men trying to teach them what to do with them… Incorrectly! And don’t even get me started on the hair bows and headbands!”

Another friend of mine, Erin, says of her time as an MK in the Middle East and her experience with Operation Christmas Child there, that “they were more interested in doing something that made sense and felt good to Americans than being open to what would be culturally appropriate and meaningful to the recipients, including stretching the truth of groundwork to appeal to US donors.”

It may be fun to head to the Dollar Store or Toys R Us with your kids to fill up a box that you think will bless a less fortunate child overseas, but the reality is that most of the time, random toys are the last thing they really need.

 

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3. It disrupts the local economy. Joelle also mentioned to me that it was her experience that if there is a toy shop, vendor, or maker in the area these shoeboxes are shipped to, they run the risk of being put out of business by sleek (and cheap) American toys with which they cannot compete. And once again, the demand is generally not high anyway, so boxes and boxes of toys spells certain disaster for their profits and their livelihood. And it’s not just toys. As a general rule, mass dumps of Western goods into non-Western countries with struggling economies are never a good idea.

4. The shoeboxes themselves are both racist and sexist. Not every shoebox that gets sent overseas by Operation Christmas Child is an official OCC box as many families and individuals simply use real shoeboxes from their homes, but the organization often does provide its partner churches and parachurch ministries with OCC-branded boxes that come emblazoned with cartoon illustrations of barefoot Latino and African children the likes of which you might find in colonialist missionary hagiography or Party City Halloween catalogues. See for yourself: the picture below is a picture of an OCC box I took personally on my cell phone in December of 2015.

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The caricature-quality representations of black and brown children are especially peculiar considering Graham’s well-documented stance towards immigration. As I mentioned earlier, Graham has publicly called for a halt to all Muslim immigration more than once and has been utterly heartless in the face of the Syrian refugee crisis, which means that if he had his way, many of the very children these shoeboxes are shipped to would be unable to come to America. It seems as though Graham prefers to keep the objects of his “compassion” at a bit more than arm’s length.

Additionally, each family that fills a shoebox is expected to select either a “girl” shoebox or a “boy” shoebox, and fill the box with toys that correspond to the appropriate gender. What exactly constitutes a “girl shoebox” or a “boy shoebox” I couldn’t tell you—but that such things exist is a core tenant of Graham’s conception of the gospel—evidenced by the aforementioned multiple Target boycotts, one when they decided to stop organizing their toy section by gender and another when they refused to jump on the transgender bathroom discrimination bandwagon. “I have news for them and everyone else,” Graham said, “God created two different genders.” In a truly baffling hermeneutical move, Graham went on to cite Matthew 19:4 as biblical justification for the boycott and continued his tradition of using the Bible as a blunt weapon to bludgeon people into submission to right-wing talking points.

I certainly hope I don’t have to explain why both of these items are heavily problematic. The cartoon caricatures are extremely offensive in and of themselves; the use of a “charity” to enforce Graham’s rigid conception of sex and gender (two concepts he repeatedly conflates despite having access to Google) is nothing short of unconscionable.

5. It’s not just a charity—it’s an evangelism machine for conservative Christianity. Sure, you and your church may not include tracts or religious material along with the toys and toothbrushes you pack, but Operation Christmas Child absolutely does. And the literature they include is of Graham’s particular brand of Christianity—fundamentalist, conservative, and evangelical. In every country where it is legal, Operation Christmas Child adds tracts and religious material promoting their narrow theological perspective—that all those who do not believe as they do will be eternally, consciously tormented in hell forever by God. “Merry” Christmas, kids. Operation Christmas Child administrators on the ground are also provided with followup material that children are pressured to participate in, where they can be further indoctrinated into exclusivistic evangelical theology. Operation Christmas Child is a well-oiled machine for a brand of religion built on colonialism and American exceptionalism. The absolute last thing this organization is interested in is “just giving children Christmas presents,” and those who say so are simply burying their heads in the sand. And if you think telling kids who don’t have their basic human needs met on a day to day basis that they’re going to burn alive forever in hell if they don’t accept white American Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior in exchange for a box of plastic toys is the “gospel,” I can’t help you.

6. It encourages reliance on white people to solve problems. Joelle told me,

“The way Operation Christmas Child is presented to kids is that these are gifts from your brothers and sisters overseas who love Jesus and love you, which sounds nice. But ultimately it perpetuates the damage that followed post-colonialism aid, which instills in children overseas from an early age that you need white people to give you things, and in our children, that the poor need our things. In mass and over time, it’s this ideology that actually make poor communities poorer.”

I don’t think there’s a better way I could say it than that.

7. It contributes to a culture of unexamined faith and half-hearted “justice.” I believe one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Christianity as I have known it in my lifetime is the lack of consistency when it comes to interrogating the ways in which our best of intentions actually contribute to greater injustice and suffering in the world.

Good intentions do not cover over a multitude of sins.

How many abusers have been enabled, victims have been silenced, violent ideologies have been perpetuated, injustices have been unchallenged, because we have been afraid to step on toes or hurt feelings or break with tradition? In the case of Operation Christmas Child…

…the influence of a theologically and spiritually violent man is being magnified.

…children living in poverty are receiving things that they do not need and which do not help them.

…privileged children are learning to assuage their guilt by shipping off boxes of trinkets and making no actual sacrifices in the service of justice.

As Joelle says,

“Generosity costs us something and it requires us to be mindful about what the recipient actually needs. The good Samaritan thought of everything the man needed at great personal expense, and not only financially. It cost the time that the Levite and Priest were unwilling to give and it took great humility.”

If you, your family, or your faith community are considering participating in Operation Christmas Child this year, I would strongly urge you to consider the cost your desire to do something “fun” for “a good cause” actually has in the world. Just because something is fun to do and appears on the surface to be beneficial, does not actually make it so. And at the end of the day, Operation Christmas Child is neither “fun” nor “a good cause”—it’s a whitewashed tomb of an organization, and any good it may or may not do in terms of relief or disaster aid is far outweighed by the toxicity of its core message.

Unfortunately, though there are plenty of relief or disaster organizations to support in place of Operation Christmas Child, when it comes to Christmas there aren’t a whole lot of organizations (at least in the United States) doing something similar but with a less theologically violent bent or headed up by a more compassionate and inclusive CEO. (If you know of any, I would love to hear about them!) However, there are a multitude of options for families or churches who want to provide those experiencing poverty with things they actually need and teach their own children about generosity and global poverty at the same time.

By far food and clean drinking water are some of the largest global needs for those experiencing poverty. The Organization WaterIsLife has created a straw that, when used, purifies water in real time as you are using it, so clean water can be found anywhere. They not only provide these “temporary, life-saving water filtration straws for the immediate need,” but they are also “committed to developing community-driven initiatives that will continue to save thousands of lives for generations to come” (learn more here!).

Teaching families and small farmers how to sustainably farm and harvest their own food is also key. There are a huge number of organizations that do this in a variety of different ways, and this is not an exhaustive list. There may even be organizations that do the very same thing but in your own local community! Organizations like these focus on what is actually needed by the recipients of our charity, and not what makes us feel good to give. 

And for a more hands-on approach with your children, the best thing you can do is get involved in local charities doing good in your community during the holidays. Volunteer at the soup kitchen or at a homeless resource shelter. Ask your church what they’re doing during this season to help those in need in your town, and if they haven’t planned anything yet, take responsibility for it. Host a toy drive or a diaper drive for moms and dads who might be feeling their budgets stretch a little more tightly at Christmas. Collect gently used purses and fill them with gloves, scarves, hand sanitizer, lipstick, and feminine hygiene products to hand out to women who are experiencing homelessness. If it’s important to you or your family that purchasing toys specifically for children at the holidays be a part of your plan, I guarantee you there are plenty of organizations in your town alone that would happily take donations of toys for the families in your area that they serve. Just do something—and don’t outsource your charity in the style of Franklin Graham. Personally during the holidays, I donate financially to organizations I believe are doing justice work in the world, participate in drives and events at my church, and look for opportunities to include others in my celebrations who may not be welcome elsewhere.

And of course, if you are looking to do some good with the gifts you purchase for your own friends and family this year, please consider supporting Joelle’s organization, Badala. Badala employs women in Kenya and other parts of Africa so they are able to rise above poverty. They sell the products that they make, and the profits serve to help the women start businesses and educate orphans. Badala’s products can be found here, and they are seriously gorgeous besides being part of a lasting legacy of justice and empowerment.

Listen. I KNOW it can be hard and uncomfortable to interrogate ourselves and our actions in this way, but it is absolutely necessary for the sake of the real gospel that we do so. Coming to a heightened sense of awareness about bigotry and privilege ruins all kinds of fun childhood memories—hello, every Disney movie ever—but it is an absolutely crucial task for every person who claims to want to walk in the way of Jesus—ESPECIALLY for those churches and organizations that consider themselves to be “inclusive.”

I hope that this year as you seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God, you will carefully consider the options available to you and choose organizations and charities that do more good than harm and provide those in need with actual resources unburdened by exclusivistic theology and westernized, first-world notions of “justice.”

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: Administer true justice.” -the prophet Zechariah

 

 

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  • Boom. This is super powerful. Thank you for writing this.

  • Leslie

    Thank you for this mindful approach. Americans are often quick to appropriate their own traditions and customs, or simply greed, onto other nations where there is not a place for it. When I worked in a large urban area in Central America, our efforts were aimed to support a Christmas celebration that was very local with gifts of food and goods that supported our families’ livelihoods. This work was often derailed by the influx of presents that made a tub of rice and vegetables seem much less appealing. Churches would do well to build relationships with organizations on the ground working with local communities. Christmas isn’t about presents that spread the love of God. It’s about Christ incarnate – now us! – proclaiming the love of God in transforming, life-giving ways. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t fit in a shoebox.

    • Helena Hoogstad

      Well said, Leslie.

  • What did you do instead?

    • Emily Joy

      We haven’t done anything yet, but my husband and I will likely choose one of the organizations that provides an animal like a goat to a family in need.

      • Sondard1

        Because, of course, as middle class white puritanical Americans we want to show that properly dealing with ones poverty should be about only the necessities and not the joyful expenditures of things one could never have.

        • Emily Joy

          I am many things, “puritanical” is not one of them. Children in countries where Christmas is an important cultural marker should absolutely be able to participate it fully, including being able to receive gifts that are “fun” and less practical and simply things that they want. I would never claim that being poor means you should only have necessities and not “joyful expenditures,” & that is quite an uncharitable reading of my critiques of OCC.

        • Ali Wilkin

          Well somebody missed the point then. Since when did shiny consumerist items become analogous to ‘joy’. Shouldn’t our understanding of ‘joy’ be a little deeper – and more considerate of the context of the person to whom we seek to bring it?

        • RidgewayGirl

          Did you read the article, or just the header? And since when is a cheap piece of plastic from the Dollar Store a “joyful expenditure of things one could never have”?

          Check out local non-profits, too, when you’re looking for a meaningful giving opportunity this Christmas. My 11 year old son really enjoyed picking out the “right” kind of athletic shoes for a local group home for teen-age boys late last summer. And he was willing to get a less-premium pair for himself so that the shoes we bought for the boys could be the ones he thought they’d like best. It was very personal and hands-on for him. And it was a specific request from the non-profit itself, so we weren’t spending money on things that they didn’t need.

          I like the Heifer International idea. It would be fun as a family to decide what to donate.

          • Sondard1

            Crappy plastic toys are a generalization and a stereotype. I know for myself whether it is this organization or others I give thoughtful consideration. So in that context yes it should bring joy. And how bourgeoisie of you to rate the type of toy children enjoy. My own children had more fun with a cheap dollar version versus a yuppified high end product. You’re all missing the objectives of giving- joy and without pretense.

          • RidgewayGirl

            But do cheap plastic toys need to be mailed to children in other countries? Is this the best use of our resources?

    • Todd

      Here is a group that does incredible work in Rwanda. They don’t have the overhead of Charity:Water, IrishAid etc, so your money ends up providing potable water.
      http://20liters.org

  • Thank you for doing this research and sharing your thoughts! I filled many a Christmas Box growing up, but my understanding of justice and “helping” has changed significantly. I really recommend the book “When Helping Hurts” for additional perspective on charity. I’m grateful my former church back in Portland moved to creating supply backpacks for children in emergency foster care, and for the innovative organizations who learn from and support local work already being done all over the world by caring people.

  • Africa

    http://www.AFCAids.org is a wonderful organization that provides training, livestock, seeds, and hope to AIDS orphans. 94% of what they raise goes to their programs and they are a 4-star rated charity. Check them out as an alterative.

  • Cheryl Teel

    Samaritan’s purse also offers a program where you can purchase things like livestock, school supplies, medical supplies, dig wells for clean water, and build hospitals. I’m sorry, but it looks like the author of this post is in disagreement with Franklin Graham and is bashing HIM instead of looking at all of the things that the organization he heads does. Disaster relief is HUGE to Samaritan’s Purse, and often times they are the first organization on the ground after a disaster has hit. I think Ms. Joy needs to do more research on the organization she is bashing, be willing to agree to disagree, and see the good that they are doing for the community. Samaritan’s Purse was the only organization that was prepared for the Ebola outbreak, when it did occur, and one of the doctors that was working to save Ebola patients actually contracted the disease himself. If it hadn’t been for Samaritan’s Purse (which is the parent company that delivers the shoeboxes and the gospel of Christ to those that receive them), then many MANY more people would have died because of it.

    • Eric Boersma

      Samaritan’s Purse does do a lot of very good things, but the author didn’t say “don’t participate in anything Samaritan’s Purse does.” They said “don’t participate in Operation Christmas Child” which is a manipulative, wasteful and damaging arm of Samaritan’s Purse.

      • TomFromMD

        Her very first reason for not supporting OCC was because of the organization that runs it.

        • RidgewayGirl

          No, she had concrete reasons why it’s not a good idea. Did you get a chance to read the post you’re upset about?

          And Franklin Graham is doing his level best to tarnish the name of Samaritan’s Purse. Why attack people who are drawing attention to this and not the problem himself?

          • JustMyThoughts

            “In short, Graham is a complete embarrassment to those who claim the name of Jesus, and he should be receiving intense spiritual and pastoral counseling—not the largest salary for the CEO of any relief charity based in the USA.

            Now, for me, this is enough. I don’t want to support anything that furthers the influence of someone like Franklin Graham. “

          • Emily Joy

            To be honest, I wrote that line from the heart. As someone who still calls myself a Christian, I am DEEPLY embarrassed by someone like Graham. I would hate for someone to visit his Facebook page or Twitter profile and think that THAT is what Christians are like. And the sad thing is, that IS what many Christians are like, no thanks to folks like Graham out there peddling his nonsense. Graham is actively working against inclusion and compassion, and for that reason I am embarrassed as a Christian by him and I wish he were somewhere without internet access, hopefully receiving help and counseling as to how to develop more empathy and compassion in his life. There’s nothing about his public persona that would indicate he has much, at the moment.

          • Cheryl Teel

            As someone else who is a Christian, I am DEEPLY appreciative of the brave stand on scriptural right and wrong that Graham takes. He is willing to put himself out there for people to criticize and malign. What you call nonsense, Ms. Joy, Christ would call the gospel. Inclusion and Compassion do not have to include acceptance of immoral, sinful lifestyles. He DOES have empathy and compassion, or else he would not be such a hands-on person with both Operation Christmas Child and with the disaster relief arm of Samaritan’s Purse. I pray that the Truth can be heard above all the noise of this post, which I believe is the opposite of the truth in this situation.

          • Hannah

            If Franklin Graham is a good representation of the gospel, I’m going to become a satanist right quick.
            *shudders and vomits*

          • JWinter777

            What kind of ridiculous comment you made about becoming a satanist. Be more thoughtful in your response to Mr. Graham

          • Hannah

            Or what, he’ll zap me with lightning? Or maybe you will? Take him off your pedestal. He’s a human, and I think a pretty crappy one. If he represents the gospel, that gospel is full of crap and should be rejected.

          • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

            Then reject the bible cause that’s what he’s preaching

          • Hannah

            I’ve long since rejected his interpretation of that book.

          • JWinter777

            No he won’t zap you. Making judgments like you are doing with Franklin Graham without really knowing him is quite shallow. And let me ask you, what is your definition of the gospel. You think Graham’s gospel is full of crap. What is a gospel that is not full of _________

          • Hannah

            I’m sorry you think it’s shallow, but I really don’t care what you think.
            Also, what do you care what my definition of the gospel is? You obviously agree with Graham’s definition of it, which I disagree with, so my definition of the gospel is something you’ll disagree with. What’s the point if we already know how this is going to play out?

          • JWinter777

            I am interested in what you believe the Gospel is. People have different opinions. My concern Hannah is the sweeping generalizations that you make like…..”you obviously agree with Graham’s definition of it.” You come across as if you know exactly what others think. Is this how you deal with people you interact with on a daily basis?

          • Hannah

            wow, and you’re not doing that? how self-aware you are.

          • Nadine

            Hannah, you’re a nut. A classic walnut.

          • Nadine

            You Hannah were the girl no one liked in high school, but was forced to befriend. 🙂

          • Nadine

            I really like that ‘is this how you deal with people you interact with on a daily basis?’
            Stealing this line!

          • Truth InLove316

            The sinner never likes to have their sin exposed.

          • MTkill_a_manJaro

            “…I pray that the Truth can be heard above all the noise of this post, which I believe is the opposite of the truth in this situation”

            Aaaaand there you go. The single most condescending thing Christians say out loud to seem like they’re better than and holier than thou. Get off your pedestal. Posts like yours is the reason the country is running away from Christ and not toward it.

            Does Graham think that God is so weak that he doesnt know how to deal with gays and muslims and therefore needs him to act as a mouthpiece? If there are modern Pharisees out there, he must be the head.
            God commanded us to love and not judge. You’re supposed to pray (silently, not on the streets or forums) for those who are your “enemies” and let God sort out the rest. Im so over fundamentalists thinking our God is that weak that he can’t deal with the “problems” of this world (problems he himself created for a reason) Its an insult to God to think this shallow.

          • JWinter777

            Totally disagree with you. I am glad there are Franklin Graham’s in this world that have the guts to speak out and share what he/she believes. Give me a flaming liberal that is clueless who speaks out about his/her views than someone who posts negative comments online

          • wakingdreaming

            When negative comments are true and valuable, it’s important to say them.

          • Truth InLove316

            There’s the rub. God’s truth is rejected and vilified in this article.

          • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

            He says what the bible says about it, it’s a sin and you should turn away from that sin and repint. Did the apostles sit in rooms and pray silently and just say God will deal with Siners and not try to turn them from their sin, and show the way to salvation,.? If spreading the good news is praying silently then you are greatly mis interpreting. And the reason he says what he says is because so called Christians saying homosexuality is no sin. And just so you know homosexuality and adultery are equal sins. But still both sins.

          • Liz

            Precisely. Telling someone who is sick that they are not sick doesn’t help them, and certain professjng Christians need to stop telling sinners they are justified in their sin, Jesus taught repentance from sin, turning from it – not justifying them in it.

          • Dani (Deb)

            Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him. He does not say we are to bash sinners. He says we are to spread the word of salvation so that every ear may hear it. Saying that this or that is a sin in God’s eyes is one thing. Being filled with hate towards them and bashing them is not the same thing. The only judge of a sinner is God….not man. It is not our job. Jesus says we are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to know what sin is but we are not to pass judgement on those sinning. For as we judge so will God judge us.

          • Truth InLove316

            You want salvation with no repentance.

          • Dani (Deb)

            No, repentence is for the sinner not for us to do. We are to spread the word, sow the seed and tell people of salvation, repentence and what Jesus has done for us but it is not our job to bash or try to force them. God does not do that. If we wanted to force us, satan would have been wiped out a long time ago. It is just sometimes people who call themselves Christians believe it is THEIR job to force people to repend and turn away. That is God/Jesus job not ours. Ours is just to spread the word. WE can save no one…only God can. And we may never see the seeds we sow take root and a person turn to God. All that matters is we spread the word and sow the seeds and You never see Jesus in the Bible being hateful or bashing anyone. Look at when the pharisees brought in the woman and accused her of adultry. What did Jesus tell them? He did not even look at them, he just told them “he who is without sin throw the first stone.” And they left. And then he talked to the woman and her repentence showed and he told her to go and sin no more.

          • Wade Spencer

            Uhh, God has used humans as mouthpieces to correct the attitudes and acts of those that fall into sin–prophets, priests, apostles, disciples, pastors, preachers, lay people. Read the Bible? You might want to read up on discernment. Discernment is how Christians come to understand what God is telling us is good or bad right or wrong. God the only lawgiver and the only judge, yet he shall use Christians to judge angel and men. The verse judge not lest ye be judged is not talking just about judgement. In its context, it is talking about the rule of measure you use for discernment, especially as Christians, will be the same rule of measure used against you. Before we say someone is vile or evil, maybe we should try putting ourselves in their shoes. Jesus tells us that before we cast a stone, consider our own sins. Jesus also said in Matthew7:15..Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” To obey those verses, you must make some fairly astute judgments! When dealing with people such as Graham who I really do not know (But I have read a lot about him from both sides of the aisle) I try to reserve judgement. And when I have made snap judgements I have often had to pray about the 2 by 4 in my eye when I realize I easily see the splinters in others.

            Emily Joy, while you may see proselytizing as wrong while performing an act of charity, I do not. The very definition of proselytize is:to induce someone to convert to one’s faith.. Isn’t that one of the first commandments Christians get from Christ after he has arisen? Mark 16:15, And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature… It is after all called the GREAT COMMISSION. As far as hurting the local economy, these children are not from families buying toys–THEY ARE POOR. They have no effect on the local economy except by their very poorness, they are considered a drain on their own local economy. I was a child in such a family here in the states before the advent of such an organization as OCC.

            I know you speak about inclusiveness, we are supposed to also be exclusive. Paint the full Christian picture. WE are supposed to welcome the sinner, not the sin. When we welcome someone who’s a liar into church, we are not supposed to take up their habit of lying, the same for a murderer. While welcoming people(wolves/sinners) into our midst we still are live as sheep/christians. That means we are supposed to exclude their sins from our lifestyle. When Jesus forgave peoples’ sins in the Bible, he told them, “Go, and sin no more” As imperfect people seeking Jesus’ forgiveness, we need to continually seek to avoid sin and ask for forgiveness when an offense occurs.

            This isn’t just Franklins Graham’s ministry. It’s God’s ministry, and if Graham is mishandling God’s ministry through negligence or intention God will deal with him. You slew him spiritually, and that’s on you. There’s a Biblical path for approaching and confronting someone you feel is not representing the Jesus and in turn, the Greater Church for His Purposes. One of the first things we’re supposed to do as christians is mourn this persons offense, for him, with him, for the Holy Spirit that has been grieved. Second, as a part of the greater church body, a group of 2 or 3 are supposed to seek out and address the offense with the sinner and convince him of its wrongness. The group seeks to restore the sinner. Love and discipline are not mutually exclusive. As we love our children and discipline them when their behavior is wrong, God does the same with us and MORE. He knows our hearts and punishes us when our heart is hardened. And furthermore the goal in church discipline is never to be vindictive. I think I’m sometimes vindictive…I have to pray about it. It’s one of the things I don’t like in others that I am also guilty of.. I see it very easily Emily Joy…I need to pray about my 2 by 4 again.

          • Dani (Deb)

            I agree with a lot of what you say except for this….God does not use any of us to “correct” anything. He uses us to spread, teach the word and the word is God and is Jesus. We are supposed to tell the world of salvation and Jesus Christ. Even the pastor description in the NT says pastors are teachers…and they must be humble, compassionate and not Lord over those under them in the church. WE can not save anyone. We can only spread the word of Jesus Christ and salvation. And we may never see people come to Christ but we did our part. You are right on the seeing someone falling and we go and try to help them restore to Christ and that is the brethren. It is not our job to go out and condemn those not saved or bash their life style but if it is someone we “KNOW” and the Bible says that ..we know..have seen for certain is doing wrong then we talk to them and if that does not work, we take two more who “know” to talk to them and if that does not work we take it to the church. But I hear a lot of people making assumptions on here and that is wrong.

          • Truth InLove316

            He is called to preach. So many people have no remorse over their sins. That’s way our society is going down the tube. Preach, Franklin, preach.

          • Dani (Deb)

            I agree with some of what you said. But we do not just pray. We spread the word of salvation, of repentence and of Jesus and what He did for us. And that is called planting the seeds of salvation. It is not our job to harvest the crop. God does that and he is the one that will sprout the seed in people’s hearts to bring them to repentence….not us. You are right we are not supposed to bash people, and try to force them to repent. We are just supposed to spread the word. God is the one that harvests what the seeds bring. We may never see anyone turn to Christ but it does not mean they don’t. Some people do act like the pharisees and boast and condemn and bash and the Bible clearly says how we judge others is how God will judge us. The only time we are to say anything to someone is if they are a believer like in our church and we see them straying, then we go to them and talk to them with compassion and love and try to help them to restore to God. But those who are not saved…that is Jesus and God’s job. Ours is to spread the word only.

          • Lori Rodriguez

            God commands not to judge one’s SALVATION, for that is His alone to do. He does call us to speak up for biblical truths. to call out unrighteous leaders, and to call out those who say they follow Christ but don’t show the fruits of that lifestyle. FYI, while God ALLOWS the problems in the world, which are mostly caused by sin, He did not CREATE them. He can use them to draw people to Himself, for His good purpose, His glory.

          • JWinter777

            A very good word

            Thanks

          • Dani (Deb)

            If we read the Bible for ourselves and do not take the word of leaders of so called Christian groups, we learn in Matthew 7:15″Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16″You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17″So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.… and in Galatians 5:22-23King James Version (KJV) it tells us we are known by our fruits which are listed below.

            22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

            It also tells us that the fruits of the flesh are: 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, HATRED, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings,
            murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do
            such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

            There is only ONE judge and that is God himself. We are not to judge the sins of others. Our job here is simply to spread the word of salvation and of Jesus Christ. We are to plant the seed and God will have it grow where it is supposed to. So, when these “Christians” are spreading hate against others because they feel it is their job to spread hate against sin, they are over stepping their bounds. Jesus tells us the two greatest commandments we are to follow is to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Tell me once place that he sent the disciples out to spread hate against those that are sinners. God wants every person to have salvation and that includes those that are sinners. Jesus sat with the sinners he did not scream in hatred against them. Jesus says we are under Grace not the laws and we understand that once we have repented and accepted Jesus as our Savior. He does not want people forced or brought to baptism out of fear but out of love and desire to follow him.

          • TomFromMD

            We are not to judge the moral state of others, but we are supposed to correct the sinner. ““If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” – Jesus.

          • Dani (Deb)

            You do know that “brother and sister” here is about correcting those who say they are Christians …in other words the brethren in the church. It is not about judging those outside the church. 1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? So, no you do not correct or judge those that are not saved. It is not our job.

          • Wade Spencer

            Dear sister, we are reading the same verses but coming to different conclusions. Try this from from plainsimplefaith.com. They build a persuasive apologia using the Bible as a proof for this:

            God hates sin. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psa. 5:4; cf. Prov. 6:16-19). He hates sin because He is holy (cf. Isa. 6:3). Sin is completely contradictory to His Holy & Divine Nature. And as imitators of God (Eph. 5:1), Christians are to hate sin (cf. Psa. 97:10).

            Why does God hate the sin of mankind? Because sin separates us from Him (cf. Isa. 59:2). Sin is a death sentence (cf. Rom. 3:23; 6:23). But because God loves mankind, He sent His Son into the world to pay the price for sin (1 John 4:8-9). That’s how passionately God loves us, and that’s how vehemently He hates our sin.

            Likewise, Christians are to hate what God hates (i.e. sin), and love what God loves (i.e. our fellow man). The phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” merely serves as a reminder that we are to love others while at the same time hating the sin they practice.

            I can love the thief while hating his theft. I can love the liar while hating his lies. I can love the alcoholic while hating his alcoholism. I can love the adulterer while hating his adultery. I can love the homosexual while hating his homosexuality. I can love the glutton while hating his gluttony.

            Christians can never endorse sin, nor can we ever knowingly interact with someone in such a way to give credence to their sin

            No one illustrates this principle better than Jesus. In His ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ Jesus highlighted God’s hatred of sin by deepening its consequences (Matt. 5-7). At the same time, Jesus was accused of fraternizing with sinners (Matt. 9:11). He demonstrated love and compassion (cf. Matt. 9:36) by building relationships with people while telling them to stop sinning (cf. John 5:14; 8:11).

            Christians, understand that while this phrase is a Biblical concept, and effectively communicates the essence of God’s view of sin, it is not always the best thing to say in one very important context – when you are talking to someone who ties their sin to their identity. Some alcoholics say, “I was born an alcoholic and will always be one.” Some thieves say, “Theft is how I express who I really am.” Some homosexuals say, “I was born this way. My attraction feels so natural.” To these people, when you say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” you are in essence saying, “I love you, but I hate you.”

            I’m not saying the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t a Biblical principle. It is! But when talking to someone who believes their sin is their identity, we should probably say something else (or approach them from a different angle). In all other instances, it is usually appropriate (if said in the right spirit)

            Christians have the obligation to tell people they are living in sin. This is not hate. In fact, it is the opposite of hate (Who actually enjoys confronting sin?). While there is sometimes a fine line between the two, we must speak the truth in love while at the same time refusing to support or condone sin

          • Dani (Deb)

            First off, I do not use people to tell me what the Bible is saying. God is not the author of confusion and He explains in the most basic of terms. Discernment is recognizing right from wrong. Judging is passing a judgement on others. The only ones we are to confront when it comes to sin is the brethren who are those also saved. Discernment is for us to know right from wrong so that we can keep ourselves more pure for God. The Bible says it very clearly…read it…1 Corinthians 5:12
            “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?”
            We will meet our judge when the end comes and we will have to face Him and admit what we have done wrong. Humans are not pure enough to judge others. In fact what did Jesus tells the pharisees and priests who brought the woman in wanting her stoned for adultry? He told them if you are without sin go ahead and cast the first stone. He also forgave the women because He could tell she was repentent. Our job is to spread the word of salvation and if we do that then it will lead people away from sin.
            Jesus ate with the sinners but the only place I know of where Jesus got mad was with those selling at the temple. We are supposed to follow and be as much like Jesus as we can and he led people to come to him in love. God could have zapped satan and stopped his sinning all together but he did not. He wants us to come to him because we want to not because someone badgers us. If the “Christians” spent less time on judging and jumping on people and more time on telling the lost about Jesus and salvation, how many more might have found their way to Jesus?
            Yes, we are to go to the Brethren…those saved and in the church…and tell them when they have done wrong and if they do not listen , take others with us. We are supposed to lovingly help them restore themselves to Jesus.
            I find is beyond belief that Christians think they are supposed to be out judging sinners when we do not know the whole story of what is going on with them. It may appear to be sin but then again it could be something entirely different. I for myself, will follow Christ’s example and what the Bible tells me because I want nothing more than to please Him.

          • Truth InLove316

            Franklin Graham is not spreading hate.

          • Dani (Deb)

            I am not even talking about Franklin Graham here. I am talking about some of the hate fulled comments on here. It is not my job to judge what Franklin Graham is or is not doing. It is simply my job as it is all Christians to spread the word of salvation and Jesus Christ.

          • Nadine

            And salvation, requires repentance and turning away from homosexual activities

          • Dani (Deb)

            Yes Nadine, it does require that but it is still NOT our place to judge whether a person has repented and turned away from what is deemed sin in the Bible. Our only job is to spread salvation (the gospel of Jesus) in hopes that it brings forth more disciples who will spread the word so they bring forth more disciples. We can not “save” anyone. God does that. We can only plant the seed and pray that it takes hold and God will do the rest. The only judge of us is God/Jesus. No one else is qualified to be a judge of us or pass judgement on us. This is why Jesus says take care of your own sin instead of pointing out the sin of others.

          • Sam

            THANK YOU FOR THIS! I don’t know young Graham or his ministry but the fact that this article is attacking someone because they have a more conservative Christian belief enrages me. I have pretty liberal Christian beliefs and I love my God but part of being a member of Christ’s community is accepting and loving each other as brothers and sisters despite differences in views and opinions. Instead of doing what God’s love has called us to do and use what we have in common (our love for Him) to bring us together, this article perpetuates a very poor idea of Christian theology by attacking those who love the same God.

          • No_6

            Cheryl, I count the docs, nurses, and others in the front line of providing assistance who work with Samaritan’s Purse as “hands-on”. In terms of Graham’s involvement–doing the photo ops, serving as the public face, making a six-figure salary from the organization, living in a cushy large house like a pharisee whose main interest is keeping culture wars that distract from actual aid-giving–is a different sort of “hands on”, entirely. Christ called for the little children to come to him. Christ didn’t exclude children based off of their ethnic background, or potential future sexual orientation. Graham does not represent the gospel–he is an embarrassment to the legacy of his father, and actively works to polarize rather than to challenge and bring more people to his cause.

          • Truth InLove316

            LOL.

          • mirele

            And this reminds me of why I bailed on the church. Jesus made a point of hanging out with prostitutes, tax collectors and other notorious sinners. I’d rather follow him than the terrible example of Franklin Graham.

          • JWinter777

            Ms. Joy…walk in his shoes and see Samaritan’s Purse up close. Maybe then you will being to respect what Franklin does.

          • I like you am embarrassed by his actions at times but will be honest and say I am embarrassed by your actions in writing this blog post that is based on your judgement of him instead of looking at the over all picture of how many lives have been and will be changed by the gift of Jesus Christ that is packed inside of each box.

          • IrishEddieOHara

            Let’s look at this from a standpoint of pure logic, Ms. Poet. We know what a thing is designed for by the function of its parts. In other words, a hammer is not designed to polish glass. A dog is not a fish. The parts of dog do not work underwater. This is called natural law.

            The human body was designed by God (I am accepting that you define yourself as Christian). As such, we see written into the human body a complimentarity of parts. The male body and female body are designed to fit together. When they do this, there is a function which comes into play and produces something – children. This design tells us that the intent of God is that man and woman join together and create life.

            The male/male and female/female parts do not compliment each other and do not produce the life towards which they are ordained. Therefore, from a purely mechanical standpoint, using natural law as the standard, we see that homosexual unions are not in God’s plan. You may torture your reasoning all you wish, and you may lean on your emotions over facts, but the design of the human body points away from homosexual behavior as the norm or standard.

          • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

            it’s very nice of you to bash a man that’s worked his life turning people to Christ and acting out in the best of his abilities to follow what the bible actually says rather than what he wants it to say. He’s been on the mission field and preaching basically his whole life, from going to war torn Germany directly after world war 2 to help Germany’s youth recover and turn towards Christ to going to preaching to over 185 countries in the world, and preaching to over 300mill people. Their is no dignified person that can argue his conmentmet to his faith. Unless you’ve done more for your faith then him? He follows the bible for what it says and not what he wants it to say. He doesn’t pick only the warm loving passages people want to hear. Instead the ones people don’t want to hear. Not those who choose to mix secular morals with Christian morals. And just so you know when it comes to Christianity majority is almost never right, the bible says the few who make it to heaven, and 1/3 people in the world call thenselves Christians. Which means most of those people won’t make the cut. And some helpful advise DON’T MIX POLITICS and FAITH. They are two very different things.

          • No_6

            Franklin Graham was born in 1952. There is no way that Frankly went to war-torn Germany “directly after world war 2”, since the war ended in 1945–7 years years before Franklin’s birth. The earliest he would have been active in ministry would be early teens, which places that in the mid-1960s–20 years after the end of WWII. Considering that Franklin *himself* indicates that he accepted Christ in 1972–when he was 20–belies the lies you’re actively using to “support” him. Don’t mix lies and faith. It’s people like you who make Christians look bad.

          • Frank

            All Emily said was Graham, He’s talking about Billy Graham, because the lady’s comment only said Graham not franklin. If you look it up, yes it is true

          • Truth InLove316

            You have confused Franklin with his Father.

          • wakingdreaming

            Franklin Graham can’t tarnish the name since he started it and runs it. The whole thing is probably irredeemable since it was created by such a corrupt, horrible man.

          • RidgewayGirl

            I hope not. Samaritan’s Purse is currently working with the refugees in Greece and even speaking out against our irrational fear of them.

          • Truth InLove316

            They have also sent counselors to help the people in Paris.

          • Truth InLove316

            Have you read the Bible lately?

    • Denise Marie Thompson

      I remember after Hurricane Katrina,Samaritan’s Purse was already there while FEMA was still wrining its hands and wading through red tape.Just because the writer of this blog doesn’t agree with political views she shouldn’t bash an organization or a “unnecessary arn” because of it.And shouldn’t make assumptions about the people who put love,time.and their monetary resources into it.

  • Hannah

    The ELCA (Lutherans) also has a program for people to contribute items needed, from farm animals to farm crops, school uniforms & supplies, mosquito nets, food for refugees, vaccinations & health care for children, and more. http://www.ELCA.org/goodgifts Check it out. 🙂

  • TomFromMD

    Don’t give to the poor if you’re white, because that encourages reliance. And don’t give the poor free stuff, because it disrupts local economies. #ThingsJesusNeverSaid

    • Sondard1

      And “don’t try to spread my word and Gods law for salvation.” As well as “give thy neighbors only practical things which white people think they can relate to and will better appreciate, because their poverty should render them joyless”

      • Emily Joy

        Um, I’m confused by your reference, “which white people think they can relate to.” I think what you’re trying to do is claim that those who have qualms about OCC are just white people trying to police others’ charity, but I have to point out that charities like OCC exist *precisely because* detached first world white people think they know best what others need. Further more, as I mentioned above, assuming that I think “poverty should render people joyless” and means they should only have practical things and not things that they simply want, is an extraordinarily uncharitable reading of my critique of OCC’s practices.

        • Sarah L

          just an FYI, amongst the multiple valid criticisms of OCC practices listed here (esp #7), i also came away with the impression that the author (you) thinks “poverty should render people joyless and that they should only have practical things and not things that they simply want”. i mean one of your points was that “The children these shoeboxes are going to do not actually need the things they contain,” and that “random toys are the LAST thing they need” :/ as others commented, children who wouldn’t have toys otherwise do sometimes actually enjoy them. when i got toys i didn’t know how to use as a kid, it was fun making up my own way to play too. but i admit it was a most uncharitable reading, so thanks for directly addressing this.

        • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

          OCC exist because a man to wanted follow God founded it, to do Gods work, help needed, and gift to those wouldn’t open any on Christmas day

    • Emily Joy

      Don’t give to the poor if you’re white, because that encourages reliance. And don’t give the poor free stuff, because it disrupts local economies. #ThingsINeverSaid

      • TomFromMD

        “It encourages reliance on white people to solve problems.” “It disrupts the local economy.”

        • Emily Joy

          Yes, *the way OCC does things* encourages reliance on white people to solve problems. *The way OCC does things* disrupts the local economy. Not giving to the poor in general. That would be ridiculous to claim and impossible to prove.

          • Cheryl Teel

            Who said the only people who pack shoeboxes are white? And who said it disrupts the local economy?

          • Liz

            Yeah, I guess I have to tell the folks in my church small group who are from Uzbekistan, Nigeria, China, Columbia, and Guatemala, that they can’t pack shoeboxes after all, because they’re not white. Emily “joy” talks about the so-called discrimination OCC does, and then turns around and does the exact same thing she just accused them of. I guess it’s hard to see the speck in Mr. Graham’s eye properly with a plank lodged in your own.

        • RidgewayGirl

          Like in the Bible, it helps to place phrases in context if you want to understand them.

          • TomFromMD

            “[Giving things to children] encourages reliance on white people to solve problems.” But somehow, giving a goat doesn’t. “[giving American made toys that apparently aren’t for sale over there anyway] disrupts the local economy.” But somehow giving a goat doesn’t. Sorry – I don’t see how context helped. I think what’s really going on here is mostly points 1 and 5: don’t support them because they’re the “wrong” kind of Christian. Better that they think that secular humanists are helping them than that.

          • RidgewayGirl

            I guess it depends if the things he says bother you as a Christian at all. Did you read the examples Emily Joy gave? I can give you more if you still think he’s motivated by a Christ-like love of those less fortunate than himself. Franklin Graham is tarnishing his father’s reputation, at the very least. I guess if that’s unimportant to you, or you agree his intolerance and hate, you won’t see why his behavior needs to be addressed.

          • TomFromMD

            A lot of people say a lot of things that bother me as a Christian. Just because somebody opposes Islam, or believes that God decreed marriage to be between a man and a woman, or sees homosexual intercourse as a sin, or believes in traditional gender roles, does not mean that he can’t be motivated by a Christ-like love of those less fortunate than himself. Looking at his Facebook page, I see many more posts about caring for the poor and spreading the Gospel marriage than gender politics.

          • Julie

            Amen! I am so tired of people throwing out all the new politically-correct terms and labeling everyone homophobic, racist, etc. just because they have different opinions on things. The new “enlightened” and “progressive” Christians are some of the most hateful, bigoted people I have ever seen – and they spew their hate mostly to other Christians! Is is a sad day when we can’t even come together as Christians and show the love and respect to each other that we do to non-Christians. Believing that marriage is between a man and a woman and standing up for God’s Word does not make us haters. The same judgement that progressive Christians claim we (conservative Christians) put onto all these various social groups is the judgement they (progressive Christians) put on us! How do you not see that? Stop hating on other Christians just because we don’t agree with everything and see things the same way you do. Stop making carte-blanche statements that, because we do not agree with your morality and social views, we are somehow not living a Christian life or following Jesus’ teachings. If you truly believe in loving as Jesus did, that should apply to ALL people, including other Christians who may not agree with everything you say!

          • JWinter777

            We can’t hold a candle to what Franklin Graham does for the poor.

          • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

            It tarnishes his father’s reputation? Nothing that’s Comes directly from the bible tarnishes his father’s reputation.

      • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

        That last part is exactly what you said? And the rest was implied

  • Floridag

    I think you meant to post this on The Onion.

    • Emily Joy

      I think you meant to post this on Franklin Graham’s facebook page.

    • Annoyed

      Ha Ha!!! Looking at this person’s FB page, this is the most attention this artist has ever received. Maybe she would be better served working on her material than a diatribe about whoever the pastor is that she finds soooo offensive while using children as a scapegoat.

      • Emily Joy

        There’s only so many things you can rhyme with “shoeboxes,” man.

      • Liz

        I find it ironic that she claims to represent Christ while not resembling his character in the slightest. She seems more concerned with modern political correctness thought up by non-believers than with biblical truth. It’s a sad day for a “Christian” when your ideas resemble the world’s ideas more than Christ’s – there might be something wrong with with your ideas when they are mostly supported by those who don’t claim any association with Christ. Franklin Graham’s work has brought probably millions to salvation – I wonder how many souls this vicious diatribe she spews has saved?

  • Christopher Hook

    I completely agree with every point and think is a wonderful post. My only questions are, if toys do not play a big role in their lives, how does that undermine the local economy (that isn’t selling toys anyway?). Second, it would be interesting to see what’s inside these boxes. I’m not sure a 5-year old who gets one is going to know this came from an American, anymore than a 5-year old who receives a gift from a far-away relative really understands who sent it. My guess is these boxes are sent to churches, who distribute them, so it appears like they’re coming from the churches.

    • Emily Joy

      Thanks for your feedback Christopher! As far as toys go, it’s my understanding (from conversations with those I’ve had who’ve worked on the ground in person for these things) that they’re not as big of a deal anyway and many children (and sometimes adults!) don’t know what to do with some of them, + IF there is a local vendor or maker, it’s not good news for their business either. As far as what’s in the boxes, it varies widely but I’ve also heard tales of Samaritan’s Purse redistributing contents on site. I do know that they are basically presented to children as “these gifts are from your friends overseas, and they love you, and so does Jesus, here take this tract and join our bible study,” so I think there must be some understanding of where the gifts come from. Distribution also varies, as far as I can tell, sometimes at churches, sometimes at schools, sometimes through non-profits, etc etc. So there are a lot of variables to account for when having these conversations!

      • Floridag

        I must admit, number 3 and number 6 were my favorite too. I just can’t imagine how many local toy vendors in Sudan that Franklin Graham has put out of business.

    • Pam Henry

      Christopher, I am with Operation Christmas Child and this blog is, how do I put “garbage” nicely? Honestly, most of the remarks the writer makes are incorrect. You are correct-the boxes go to national leaders in the receiving countries, and they are distributed to pastors who have requested to receive the boxes. The boxes are packed by caring people in more than 15 sending countries -not just the US- and they are packed according to what the Lord lays on the heart of the person packing. Our suggestions are hygiene items, school supplies and a toy-something for the child to hold or cuddle . The reasoning behind this is that many of these children are receiving gifts for the first-and sometimes only-time in his/her life. We want it to be something they will receive joy from. The information about toys and the local economy…I too work with pastors in Africa ( Uganda), so I know how poor the country is, and if many parents had extra money, I am sure they would spend it on food,not toys. There are NO tracts put in the boxes, and the only “redistributing ” that happens is if there is anything in the boxes that will cause the carton to not make it through customs, or could leak or break and damage the gifts or break and harm a child, these items will be pulled out and given to local charities- homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, etc, that sign up many months in advance to receive them. If we pull anything out, we replace it with something that has been donated so that the child receives a full box. We offer a discipleship program but the child is not forced to go through it.If they do choose to go through it and graduate, they are given a New Testament in their language. We offer hope to children who are affected by war, poverty, or natural disaster. Franklin Graham may have a large salary, I am not sure, but he is CEO of the largest children’s charity in the HISTORY of the world, and he is also a best-selling author. Nothing was said about the compensation from his books, which I am sure plays a large part in his finances. And he is NOT an embarrassment. He is the one who is speaking truth, and unfortunately, people with their own agendas will read what they want to into what Franklin Graham says. Please don’t just take someone’s word for things about a ministry that does NOTHING but help support hurting children around the world without doing the research yourself. I personally know many of the national leaders for OCC in many receiving countries, have been on many shoebox distributions and I can tell you for sure , beyond the shadow of a doubt, 100 % of the time ,the children who receive these gifts are joyful and they DO know what to do with the toys and even if they can’t figure it out right away, they don’t care, because they have something of their very own. For a child in an orphanage who may have to share everything with 20 or 30 other kids, even the box is precious to them. I have yet to see a toy store in the third world countries I have visited, especially in Africa- what a silly statement for someone to make about putting them out of business. I invite you to visit one of our processing centers around the world for yourself and decide for yourself the value of this ministry.

      • Emily Joy

        Hi Pam,

        So you work for Operation Christmas Child? I’d love to know a couple things.

        1. Do they tell you that Franklin Graham’s salary is so large because of his being an author and selling a lot of books? I’d be fascinated to learn what they communicate to employees about that, because the statistic about him being the highest paid CEO of a US-based foreign aid charity is based on his *actual salary* from Samaritan’s Purse ALONE, not counting ANYTHING he makes from book sales or his salary from the Billy Graham foundation, which he also apparently works at at “full time” in addition to being the full-time CEO of Samaritan’s Purse.

        2. You say Franklin Graham is “the one who is speaking truth” where others fail to do so. Are you saying that Franklin Graham saying that

        – all Muslims should be forced to stop immigrating to the US
        – the bible mandates about gender mean that Target sinned against God when they removed “boy” and “girl” labels from their toy section
        – Kim Davis refusing to do her job and discriminating against US citizens was standing up for the gospel of Jesus
        – all of the other offensive and tragic things FG says on a regular basis

        Are you saying that all of that is “speaking truth”? If so, I’m afraid we won’t be able to have much of a conversation here because we have fundamentally different ideas of what it looks like to follow Jesus.

        • Liz

          Frankly, condemning a fellow Christian for saying something you don’t agree with his very much like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Also, I find it amusing when people who have never been poor in a third world/developing country talks about what it’s like. I remember when my family’s situation changed for th better when I was a child, and for once my parents could afford more than a few candy for us for Christmas. I cheap doll and was inseparable with it. The next year my mom made a new dress for my doll from scrap cloth, and I got a little plastic baby bottle for her with little candies in it. I’ll never forget how happy I was. A gift like the shoeboxes OCC distributes would have been unbelievably wonderful. Fortune (and a lot of hard work from my dad) changed our circumstances, and now I have my own family and we packed 42 boxes last year and hope to do at least 60 this year. And I feel proud and privileged to do it. For the life of me, I’ll never figure out though, how someone who claims to follow Christ can spew such vitriol against the teaching of the gospel. Countless people have come to know the Lord and here you sit, Emily, prideful as you work against those who would do the Lord’s work.

    • Stephanie

      I have participated in distributions of these shoeboxes (about 1000 in 5 distributions) I wouldn’t even know how to start to explain how many things in this article are not correct but to your point, yes most of the distributions are through the local church so that once the distribution is over the local church is the one partnering and continuing to minister to the children and their families. I met some amazing pastors while on my trip.

  • Tyler

    You sound like a stupid, white, privileged little girl who her school would be ashamed of, yet decided to keep the title of ‘Christian’ on what you say (despite it not being Christian at all) for the sake of being edgy. The only good point you made was filling the boxes with needs rather than cheaply made trinkets. Someday you might actually pick up a Bible and look back on this with shame. I’m just glad you don’t have a broad enough audience to actually do much damage with your thoughtless, baseless words.

    • Capiscan

      Or maybe she’s not accepting what FG is dishing out. Something to think about.

    • Emily Joy

      I’m not sure who you are, Tyler, although the seemingly random reference to “her school would be ashamed of” makes me feel like we probably went to school together. That’s fine. I also appreciate the infantilization inherent in “privileged little girl,” yeah I see you. Your comment doesn’t bear responding to, really, other than that. Have a logical argument using facts or don’t, but paragraphs of ad hominem nonsense won’t fly here.

    • Emily Jamar

      Because anonymously calling someone a stupid privileged little girl is super Christian.

      • RidgewayGirl

        Not to mention telling them that they aren’t a Real True Christian. Tyler gets to decide that, apparently.

  • Shan_30ish

    I attend a United Methodist church that participates in Operation Christmas Child. Our church has a continuous ministry in the Dominican Republic where they distribute the boxes. Last week during services the pastor shared a video of a man who had received one of these boxes as a child and it affected him greatly. He said the box included pencils, paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and other small toiletries, and a few hot wheels cars. He is currently a leader of an organization that builds schools for the poor in DR. He also ended up becoming a Methodist Pastor and credits the Operation Christmas Child box he received from our church 20 years ago with introducing him to the gospel.
    As for the toys that were in the box? He still has the five hot wheels cars he received in that box.

    As a white girl who grew up very very poor I can tell you that while the necessities are wonderful and obviously necessary, the small toys we sometimes received from our local church members at Christmas boosted our morale and improved our quality of life. It made us feel like “normal” kids.

    • Emily Joy

      I’m so glad that was your experience! I have friends myself who grew up in other countries who received shoeboxes growing up, and I’ve been dialoguing with them too throughout this process because it is NOT black and white, it is very complicated and it’s not like there is no “good” that comes out of this organization. In my mind, ideally there would be ways to accomplish that same “good” you are speaking of (morale boosting, improved quality of life, feeling like “normal” kids, etc) that doesn’t come burdened with the drawbacks of OCC that I mentioned above; and in the mean time the drawbacks are so strong and serious that it would be unconscionable for me to support this organization or encourage others to do the same. But thank you for sharing your story, I think it’s necessary that both the good ones and the bad ones are told for the sake of honesty, transparency, and moving forward in a better way.

  • Marie Ugorek

    If you don’t have an objection to working with an organization that may have some differing theological viewpoints (or if you are, in fact, a United Methodist) and you like the idea of an individual, family, or small group putting together a kit, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) stocks kits for specific purposes which are then distributed around the world (including in the United States) as needed or which are used in social/financial missions such as schools and home-industry training programs. I am most familiar with the health/hygiene kits, school kits, and sewing kits, but I want to say there are also kit lists for things like flood/fire clean up and stuff. These kits are carefully crafted to be usable in as many countries as possible, serve a very specific need that is at least fairly universal, and contain items that are common and inexpensive enough that an individual, family, or Sunday school class can easily commit to putting together at least one kit. Religious tracts are NOT included, and UMCOR does have publications and information on where such kits have been used in the past.

    P.S. I am also familiar with and support the Heifer Project, but it can be difficult for smaller or less wealthy churches to participate, and actually putting together and giving away a kit of physical objects IS a great way for children to practice empathy and the joy of sharing. Unless they are farm kids, it is difficult for many American kids to have any conception of what a flock of chickens or a goat does for a family, so I prefer that ministry for school-age or older children and like to use kits with preschoolers.

  • Reece

    You speak truth! Which is rare. I like that your promoting alternatives and not only stating OCC is evil. I agree with everything. In hindsight, dolling out judgement over one’s view is the point you are making yet failing to forbear yourself. Justification is a tricky thing. Franklin Graham may be egocentric, to say the least, and his actions will come with consequence, whether in this life or the next. Your point is valid but as I read, I realized how much anger and judgement you have for this individual. God wants a genuine relationship with Franklin just as much as you and me. Just because one is blind to sin does not make it ok for us to pass our own interpretations of good and evil. You don’t want to contribute to his charity, awesome! You want to chastise him to the point where judgement and anger control your thoughts and keep you from God’s peace, not awesome. Another point is I feel we can underestimate the power of gifts. If my mom gives me a crappy gift, I still love the experience nonetheless. There is power in receiving gifts, despite face value, for the knowing of kindness and relationship. I may never get an opportunity to go and physically contribute to a genuine loving relationship with these kids, but in doing a shoe box I can. Just because society has made big deals out of racism, ethics, gender and sorts, does not mean we have to conform to that thinking. I love everyone. The love I speak of is not separate from the love that God has for us in true genuine relationships. It is not hard to love Franklin Graham if one has the peace and relationship-love that which comes from the One who created it. It is not hard to see the “good” in the shoeboxes, which may be far more negative than positive, when infused with God’s peace and grace. Which, in conclusion, brings me to my first point. You are awesome for suggesting alternatives! That’s God speaking through you! That’s peace, mindfulness and genuine relational love! We must be careful how our minds are effected by the knowledge of “good and evil”. For it can uproot truth by placing identities, not from God, into our heart. God bless.

    • “You speak truth! WHICH IS RARE” LOL! Really? When someone starts with that, I shut down immediately. Yikes.

      • Reece

        Yeah…I feel you. I usually make fun of people who say that as well.
        …..well this is embarrassing.

    • Nicole Yandle

      I am so with you at the heart of your argument, and at the same time it seems painfully obvious that your argument is not based off your experience in 3rd world countries, forgive me if this is not accurate. I love where your heart is at, and also, it seems like your opinions are based off your disdain for mr. graham, more than they are your educated first hand experience with how occ impacts the world. 1 I’ve never ever seen a toy store in Africa and I’ve been to 7 countries. But I did hear at least 5 stories from adults about how OCC played a significant role in their commimg to know Jesus. as I said, I agree with you on so many levels but something in this post didn’t sit right with me. Is your hatred of Graham that much different than His hatred for who ever else? Perhaps, I’m misreading the situation. I’m tempted to press back against my propensity to forget that what’s “loving” isnt always “nice”. I realize that the truth is often offensive.

  • Often Wrong

    This blog post seems dangerous and divisive. So I’m only suppose to work with fellow Christians whose theology I agree with? So I would be right in never working with those of other faiths?

    • Emily Joy

      Not at all! Would never claim that. I do think, however, there is a certain “cutoff point” that everybody has to decide for themselves. For example, I attend Episcopal church (and teach Sunday school there!) and married a Catholic man, even though I don’t really believe in baptizing babies. To me, that is not important enough. But for example, I would never attend or teach Sunday school in a church that wasn’t affirming of LGBTQ Christians, or didn’t believe that Christians had any obligation to pursue justice in the world. Those are issues, to me, that are important enough to determine whether or not I work with someone. The issues I disagree with with regards to Graham/Operation Christmas Child are serious enough to merit not supporting them. To me it’s not a matter of disagreeing on some minor theological point—it’s disagreeing about the point of theology and the gospel and life in general.

      • Often Wrong

        Would you come together for a day of service with other faiths (Buddhists, Hindu, etc…)? Can you come together with Christians of other denominations to serve without your denomination leading the service activity? Is it possible that Franklin Graham’s OCC is leading others to Christ through love even if Franklin Graham may make some hateful comments? Is it possible that this article is dividing us as Christians rather than encouraging us to unify in service?

        • Emily Jamar

          Did you read the article, though…? It’s (mostly) not helping them practically. Heck yeah service activities that actually help people are super cool, but she’s saying let’s do something that actually helps.

          • Often Wrong

            Right. It is not helping. It is completely not practical giving. It is just the one thing I would hope that all Christians could unite together on is giving kids gifts to make them feel loved at Christmas and sharing our saviours story.

          • Often Wrong

            Right. It is not helping. It is completely not practical giving. It is just the one thing I would hope that all Christians could unite together on is giving kids gifts to make them feel loved at Christmas and sharing our saviours story. But, I read the article. So maybe I should only do this if I agree with the theology of the Christian leading the charge.

          • Cheryl Teel

            How is it not practical giving? How is it not helping. If you spend time talking with some of the recipients of the shoeboxes who you say it hasn’t helped, you might think differently.

          • Liz

            So eternal salvation is impractical now? Good to know.

  • Terri

    I always wonder: If someone believes God created male and female, and that’s their nature, that’s who they are, then why do these people always work so hard to *enforce* and *police* people into what they say is the nature people have already? Either it’s natural and you can’t escape it anyway because that’s who you are, or it’s artificial and must be enforced. Can’t have it both ways.

    • TomFromMD

      Concupiscence is natural. So is envy. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean we aren’t called to greater things.

      • Emily Joy

        Sorry, homophobia and the implication that non-straight sexuality is “less than” and straight sexuality is “greater” won’t be tolerated here.

        • TomFromMD

          The “greater thing” to concupiscence is overcoming concupiscence, and living a chaste single life, per St. Paul (1 Cor 7:38).

          • Emily Joy

            Ummmmm I’m already married so I guess it’s too late for me

        • IrishEddieOHara

          Truth is painful to you, eh?

  • JMG
    • Emily Joy

      Nobody has to give animal gifts either! Lots of other charities both overseas and local that do good around the holidays. Everybody should decide for themselves.

  • Jennny

    Here in N Wales UK, schools, churches etc filled thousands of boxes for OCC until 2 years ago when we boycotted because of FG’s homophobia. We now fill for a local charity who distributes in Rumania. My friend, new to the whole idea of shoebox appeals and not a christian, went with the boxes and helped give them out in very poor villages last year. She said the most wanted items were underwear and gloves (not mittens). She was impressed that what was being distributed was sensible and indiscriminate. She praised the local free churches who were trying to help the very poorest, though the state church wasn’t. I do agree about local sourcing…..don’t get me started about ‘Little Dresses for Africa’ – there’s plenty of fabric and women who sew in Africa. I suspect the mindset of that organisation is that heaven forbid any girls have to wear pants and not look ‘pretty’ in dresses. Thanks for the article

    • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

      Just remember they are kids who are filling the boxes, don’t them for not know exactly the kids need or want. They gave what they thought they would want, and what kids in America would get.

      • Dani (Deb)

        the point of the article ….people fill with what we in America use for countries that do not have the same culture or items. In other words there are things they may need more.

  • joec00l

    I was actually thinking maybe OCC had some serious issues and clicked the link to this article on Facebook, but really this is nothing more than politically correct whining. Sorry, it’s been awhile since I reacted to something on facebook but here goes.

    To her points by number:

    1. Graham supports traditional Biblical values, which does not include homosexuality. Not much of a shocker there. Especially not surprising that he’s appalled when churches support what is not supported by the Bible just because it is politically expedient. OCC is a Christian organization so if you don’t like Christian values, you’re not likely to support OCC anyway! Also you can still like the shoebox ministry and not agree with everything Graham says. Christians can certainly do better with not demonizing homosexuality specifically. My church just had a message on that. Either way it’s hard to see how that viewpoint affects the work of OCC at all. It’s shoeboxes for kids.

    2. There are charities that allow you to donate strictly to needs (food, water, animals, etc). OCC is about sharing some unnecessary things along with the gospel. Some things are cheap crap, but you can decide yourself what to put in the box! It doesn’t have to be crap. It should be obvious to everyone that food is more important to survival than a toy. NO KIDDING!

    3. This directly contradicts point 2!! She says in one breath that the toys are useless, they don’t know what to do with them, etc and then in the next, that those same “useless” things will put local toy makers out of business! Wow.

    4. What in the world is wrong with little black and brown children on the box? The images aren’t mean. Should they all be white? And then she goes on to complain about identifying gender differences as being offensive. What if kids identify as LGBTQ? These kids have nothing and she thinks they have time to worry about politically correct crap like that? Wow. I don’t have words for how stupid this point is. LGBTQ issues are first world problems we’ve invented because we have it too good.

    5. Well, yes, it is an evangelism machine for conservative Christianity. The main stated goal of the program is to spread the gospel of Jesus. Someone like Emily who clearly has a problem with the Bible as it is actually written would have a problem with this. Is this a surprise to anyone?

    6… I’m already done with this woman. She’s the embarrassment, not OCC.

    • Emily Joy

      I don’t have any desire to prove that my work is not “politically correct whining” to you or that “traditional Biblical values” as conceived of by Graham are harmful and not worth supporting, but I do want to address the supposed contradiction between 2 and 3.

      From what I have heard from those folks I know who have been on the ground when these boxes are distributed, many children (and sometimes adults) do not know what to do with some of the toys that are sent, and others are simply cheap plastic crap from the dollar store. Some, of course, are great toys and the children are appreciative of them. Obviously any local vendor would not be making toys that children wouldn’t know what to do with and they wouldn’t be making cheap plastic crap either. It’s the toys that are good from OCC that displace local vendors. I wasn’t trying to say TOYS ARE BAD, and then say LOCAL TOYMAKERS ARE BEING DISPLACED all in the same breath. That would be ridiculous. That’s all I have to say about this one.

    • RidgewayGirl

      So, 6. was just rude, in a very non-Christ-like way. We can disagree without gratuitous insult-slinging.

      And, more importantly, Franklin Graham is tarnishing his father’s legacy and this needs to be addressed. Did you take the time to read his Facebook posts? Sure, we can respect his father’s name, but slowly that respect is being eroded by the partisan and hateful views of his son. Does it matter that many people now associate Christianity with intolerance and ignorance? I think that, as Christians, we need to challenge each other to search ourselves for ways our own prejudices and fears influence what we say in Christ’s name.

      • joec00l

        I agreed with you on number 6 before I saw your post, and I changed it. God can tell even a hard hearted cynic like me when I’m going way too far.
        I also have to admit I don’t follow Graham so if his comments are inflammatory then that is definitely not good. I was simply looking at his beliefs, which are not at all unbiblical. How he communicates those truths makes a big difference. You can disagree with things someone does and not be hateful. I just see a total disconnect with this OCC issue and Graham, gay rights, etc. Just found the whole thing to be ridiculous. Gay rights is even sending its politically correct tentacles into our charities now it seems. If you want to be gay, you are free to do so, but don’t expect everyone in the world to be accepting of it. Nobody has the right to be accepted by all. When it comes to intolerance… as a Christian we should not tolerate sin because it is convenient. I think that is what is happening now in too many churches. At the same time, you have to love people from all walks of life as Jesus did. Jesus spoke to and loved prostitutes and adulterers, but he did not accept or tolerate their sin.

        • Emily Joy

          Um, there are many things unbiblical and inherently hateful about the “gospel” peddled by OCC. But those who disagree with me on that such as yourself probably weren’t going to get anything out of this post anyway and it’s probably best to just be left at that.

        • RidgewayGirl

          When a prominent Christian leader makes sexist and racist comments that receive media attention, that should concern Christians. If Graham’s many inflammatory comments are in accordance with your beliefs, there is no reason to not contribute to OCC with a happy heart. And if you find his rhetoric troubling, then it’s important to avoid any association with him or the ministry he controls.

          I’m sure that you would not donate to a ministry with a gay-affirming leader, or one who affirmed women in ministry. You might even tell like-minded Christians about this Christian leader’s views.

        • LadySunami

          Not even the Bible calls male-male sex a sin though. It says all sorts of disparaging thing about it, sure, but sin? Nope.

          Many Christians are accepting of LGBT individuals because of their reading of the Bible, not in spite of it. They see that male-male sexual activity is characterized the same way as unclean foods and other “non traditional” activities, as toebah (abomination) not chet (sin). They recognize that unlike the condemnation of adultery the portion of the Bible in which men lying with men is prohibited is all about the Hebrew people avoiding the pagan practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites (outright stated in Leviticus 18:3), not about some universal moral code. Both Abraham and Isaac married their half sisters after all, so Leviticus 18:9 certainly isn’t universal. Jacob violated Leviticus 18:18 by marrying two sisters as well.

          Indeed, even in Romans male same-sex relations (plus male-female anal sex) is not condemned so much as brought up to mock the pagans and their rituals. By performing such foolish acts they “received in themselves the due penalty for their error” after all, or in other words by way of their ritual sex they punished themselves for their error of idolatry.

          Pederasts and abusers of slaves are those truly condemned (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10) and rightly so as such acts are not merely pagan foolishness but actual abuse!

  • Viola Larson
    • Jo Ann G. Sherbine

      Thank you, Viola. A picture (or a video) is worth thousands of words!

  • Patricia Anne Brush

    Awesome article. Thank you.

    (However, core tenet, not “core tenant”, although I bet that was an incorrect autocorrect.)

  • Emily Jamar

    “Do you even bible”?????????? Jk, seriously thank you for this article.

    • Emily Joy

      Right? 🙂

  • MSP

    A church I attended some years ago participated in Operation Christmas Child. We had fun filling the boxes and were careful to follow the guidelines provided in order to send items which would be the most enjoyable and useful. Later we had a seminary intern from Myanmar who had children in his town receive the shoeboxes and said that the children were always delighted. When we were participating in the program we only had labels for boy/girl and age group to put on our own boxes, so I had never seen the “pre-decorated” boxes. We didn’t give the boy/girl label much thought and usually put in toys like balls or cars or pencils and drawing pads. Fast foward several years–Shortly after we moved to another state, and consequently to another church, we were saddened to learn of the outspoken hatefulness which was behind this program. Our new church had not participated in the past, and we did not suggest that they start. We have a lot of poverty in our local area and we work more with those needs. In addition, my husband and I have long sponsored a child through Children International. For Christmas, birthdays, etc., we send an additional contribution and the organization chooses an appropriate gift and lets us know what it was. I would suggest this as an alternative.

  • Rob Ramcharan

    Much better to give to the government, no?

  • Kara Evans

    While I agree that supporting Franklin Graham may not be in the best interest of the American church, I have a cousin who my family adopted out of Russia when she 10. She was living in a orphanage with her older brother from the time she was 3. She received a shoebox every year and it meant the world to her. While It is good to educate people on what they should put in shoe boxes, bouncy balls, stuffed animals, crayons and the likes are appreciated by children everywhere. After talking with my cousin about her shoe boxes, she said that socks and gloves were always appreciated because they may be the only pair she got all year. I know that Samaritan’s purse does look through the boxes before shipping them to make sure someone in Uganda doesn’t receive a pair of gloves or the likes. like I said, I am not a big Franklin Graham fan, but I don’t the boxes are a complete negative. It should not be a family’s only form of charity though. Hopefully this is an activity parents use to teach their kids about charity and how making small sacrifices or giving to others is important, and not using it as their ticket to feeling good about their “generosity”.

    Wheat and Chaff

  • Belva Koerth

    Outreach International of the Community of Christ is also a great way to give! http://outreach-international.org/

  • Steve Cheney

    In the interests of whatever, this article is broadly supportive of OCC but does offer some guidelines on what kids might actually *want* to receive:

    http://garrett.with.sim.org/index.php/archives/1675

  • Sarah Rohret

    We just had a discussion about these kinds of boxes in a clergy group. While I agree with much of what you say here, the flip side is that many of us had been in places where these were opened and experienced the joy kids had opening the box and getting toys. One clergy person had been a refugee child who cherished the memories of receiving these at Christmas. I saw kids get these in an orphanage. Kids loved the toys and the hair bows. These were kids who would not be buying local toys, they had nothing and would get nothing without the box. Maybe there is a better group that does it well and with more sensativity.

    • Emily Joy

      If there is, I would love to know about it!

  • Michelle Norsworthy

    i appreciate your thoughts and your heart for justice, but this makes my heart hurt more than it has in a while. I have been on 30+ Operation Christmas Child distributions in Panama and the Dominican Republic (I lived in the DR for four months and participated in distributions just about every weekend). These distributions have been in orphanages, hospitals, schools, and even to individual houses for children who were too sick or disabled to attend the big distributions in the town centers. I have witnessed hundreds of little faces light up with innocent joy, children with cancer hug a teddy bear for the first time in their life, boxes being reused in homes for food storage, and children kissing and hugging the pictures and letters that families include in the boxes. I have seen parents cry with happiness as their child received notebooks and pencils enabling them to go to school for the first time. I have seen boxes that were prayerfully packed and arrived to the perfect child-shoes that fit a child perfectly who didn’t have any, headbands and bows that went to the only girl at the school who didn’t already have any.
    As I sit watching the news in my warm house with a full plate of dinner, as I’m sure you are, it is easy to use my political views to decide what is an “acceptable” charity that fits my opinions. Do you really think that the mother who now has a flashlight that she can use to see her beautiful babies’ faces at night cares that box it came in had a “gendered” label? Does the child in an orphanage who finally has a wash cloth to call their own, care that it was packed by a white, conservative family? I can tell you from experience that they don’t.
    I am glad to see that you participate in other charities, and I also participate in charities similar to the ones you mentioned. But the underlaying message of your blog that Operation Christmas Child does more harm than good is just false. I wish you could witness a child hug you, praise Jesus, and kiss each item in their box upon opening it as I have. OCC is a chance for a child to experience the innocent joy of opening gifts on Christmas that every child deserves to have.

  • Linda McLaughlin Dye

    But ultimately it perpetuates the damage that followed
    post-colonialism aid, which instills in children overseas from an early
    age that you need white people to give you things, and in our children,
    that the poor need our things. In mass and over time, it’s this ideology
    that actually make poor communities poorer.” This sentence could be applied to our own country as well. It sounds like what Republicans say, actually. It is very hard to know what to do that won’t offend someone or harm someone.

  • Michelle Norsworthy

    i appreciate your thoughts and your heart for justice, but this makes my heart hurt more than it has in a while. I have been on 30+ Operation Christmas Child distributions in Panama and the Dominican Republic (I lived in the DR for four months and participated in distributions just about every weekend). These distributions have been in orphanages, hospitals, schools, and even to individual houses for children who were too sick or disabled to attend the big distributions in the town centers. I have witnessed hundreds of little faces light up with innocent joy, children with cancer hug a teddy bear for the first time in their life, boxes being reused in homes for food storage, and children kissing and hugging the pictures and letters that families include in the boxes. I have seen parents cry with happiness as their child received notebooks and pencils enabling them to go to school for the first time. I have seen boxes that were prayerfully packed and arrived to the perfect child-shoes that fit a child perfectly who didn’t have any, headbands and bows that went to the only girl at the school who didn’t already have any.
    As I sit watching the news in my warm house with a full plate of dinner, as I’m sure you are, it is easy to use my political views to decide what is an “acceptable” charity that fits my opinions. Do you really think that the mother who now has a flashlight that she can use to see her beautiful babies’ faces at night cares that box it came in had a “gendered” label? Does the child in an orphanage who finally has a wash cloth to call their own, care that it was packed by a white, conservative family? I can tell you from experience that they don’t.
    I am glad to see that you participate in other charities, and I also participate in charities similar to the ones you mentioned. But the underlaying message of your blog that Operation Christmas Child does more harm than good is just false. I wish you could witness a child hug you, praise Jesus, and kiss each item in their box upon opening it as I have. OCC is a chance for a child to experience the innocent joy of opening gifts on Christmas that every child deserves to have.

    • Emily Joy

      As I’ve said to others, Michelle, I’m SO glad that was your experience! I myself have friends who were MKs or lived overseas and both gave and received OCC shoeboxes growing up, and they have said similar things—that it made them smile, gave them joy on Christmas, etc. I would never want to say that those who appreciated the shoeboxes were wrong or even that they should not have received them. What I am saying is that, overall, the net effect on the local economy combined with the sullying of the name of Jesus that Franklin Graham seems intent on accomplishing and the forced proselytizing that occurs along with these gifts is simply not worth it. I want children to have Christmas and be happy, but I think we all need to be mindful about HOW we go about trying to accomplish good things, because the HOW is just as important as the WHAT and the WHY. I would love to see those same goods you mentioned accomplished in the future through a less nefarious organization.

      • HoosierConservative

        After having read all the back-and-forth on this, and seeing both sides, I thought I might be able to help by providing some insight from a poor kid who lived on the other side of philanthropy. I grew up in a dirt-poor environment with abusive parents. There were days when we went out in the woods and found edible plants so we could have dinner. All of my clothing and toys came from charity. Many times I went to school with no pencils and had to beg my teachers to give me one just to do my homework. You make some very good points on this blog post, but some are off the mark. Please take my comments as meant to be constructive.

        1) Franklin Graham is in charge of it. Okay. A 5 year old with no shoes really doesn’t care about Franklin Graham’s political persuasions. On this point, I have to be honest and say that I do not remember getting many gifts from progressives. I remember evangelical churches helping us, and I remember the socially conservative old lady down the road bringing us food. Enlightened suburban liberals? Not so much. Telling Franklin Graham to stop feeding children because he is Franklin Graham will only result in more hungry children. There will not be an army of progressives rushing in to fill that void.

        2) You are correct that poor children don’t need the hottest new Star Wars thingamajig. Consumerism gets in the way when people donate trendy, complicated, easily breakable, or “adult-required” toys. When I was about 12, I was obsessed with a lucky racquetball because I could play with it all alone and get lost in my own world. Poor children need simple, durable, versatile toys that can grow up with them. But they do need toys. They need a break from thinking about how hungry they are. OCC should do a better job of educating people on these donations.

        3) This only matters if the parents ever had any intention of buying things at a local shop. OCC is not giving these boxes to middle class families. They are going to kids who would have had zero school supplies otherwise.

        4) Much more than gender-neutral toys are given to charity. A 14-year-old girl needs bras and maxi pads. It would be beyond stupid to give those things to a boy just to try to prove a point. It would also be stupid to avoid those topics and give the girl no bra because you don’t like gender rules. What’s she supposed to do, not have anything to help with her periods? If a boy is living in a clearly old-fashioned culture where he knows darn well he’ll be expected to work and find food for his sisters, shall we give him a tiara, and refuse to supply him with fishing lines or gardening tools, just to prove a point about how progressive he’s supposed to be? How is that being mindful of the recipients?

        5) You are more than welcome to start your own charity and beat Franklin Graham to those children. It sounds like you’d rather those children have nothing before they get a bar of soap from Franklin Graham.

        6) Being hungry and naked is better than getting a gift from a white person. Is this for real? Shall white Americans just give up charitable giving? Would more children be fed as a result of that?

        7) Good intentions certainly do not cover sins. A real can of soup from an evangelical tastes a lot better than no soup because that church was boycotted out of business. Career-development programs are fantastic IF the parents are mentally prepared to work. Buying a goat for a family is great IF they live in a place that is safe enough for farming. It is very difficult to raise a goat when you live in a refugee camp. It is very difficult to run a business when you live in a war zone and the borders get closed. Not every family is a good candidate for career development. Sometimes they are living in a camp where they deal with theft, disease, dirty water, and bombing raids. Those families do not need career counseling. They need clean water, and the females need maxi-pads because they are women.

        I remember back in the 1990s there was a rush of aid going to Africa when places like Somalia and Rwanda were dealing with massacres. People showed up with packaged food. Families trapped in refugee camps could not eat the food because they had no firewood for cooking. Gardens were razed, rain water stolen, heavy tools abandoned. Those families had no lofty thoughts of starting a business. They needed things like soap.

        After having gone through your list a second time, it sounds more and more like you are saying those children would be better to starve than to get a bite of food from a white evangelical. Are you basing this on ever being poor and needing charity for your next meal, or are you basing it on your progressive opinions of society?

        • Erica Cavazos Alcalá

          Very well said @HoosierConservative. I’m a “Baby Christian” and I’ve been saved for about six years now. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of sins I still commit. I have come to realize that judging other Christians seems to be a waste of time. As a Christian I am judged very harshly and it hurts to be called a hypocrite. I am far from perfect but only wish to be more like Jesus. However, I do know when it’s time to go speak to the heavenly Father I would hate for him to ask me why I didn’t send a box through Operation Christmas Child when he put in my heart to send a box he planned for a very special girl. This is my first year submitting a shoe box to OCC, but I know God wants me to. He said to give with a cheerful heart, and a cheerful heart I had as I carefully picked every item in that box. I would hate to tell God, “Well I didn’t send the box because I don’t like how Franklin Graham portrays to be a Christian.” Sounds kind of silly. I’m pretty sure some kid will get something they won’t need or something they don’t understand. God has a different purpose for those experience. I strongly believe everything happens for a reason. We may not understand it, but who are we to question it. What I do know…. “If God brings you to it, then he’ll bring you through the it.” So what if a couple unnecessary trinkets are thrown in a box by spoiled suburban kids. That seed that’s being planted may not be intended for the recipient, but for the contributor. God has a funny way of doing things. You seem so upset by this @EmilyJoy; I really pray that God opens your heart and eyes. Sometimes we are blinded by sin we fail to see God’s truth.

    • JWinter777

      Thanks Michelle Well written and thoughtful. I agree wholeheartedly with you

  • lukethomas

    We get it. You really dislike Franklin Graham. I’ll be the first to agree that he should probably chill out with his Facebook posts (I’m not his #1 fan). But I’m reading this article, and there’s actually very little substance to your argument.

    “Toys don’t play as large of a role in East African culture…” I’m pretty sure they deliver gifts to oodles of children outside of East Africa fyi.

    “Is disrupts the local economy” – okay, now you’re really grasping at straws with this one. You’re assuming that their parents actually have finances to purchase toys for their children.

    “Operation Christmas Child adds tracts and religious material promoting their narrow theological perspective”. The burden of proof is on you to prove this. If you’re going to make statements like this, you should probably back it up.

    As a Christian, I’m thankful that God uses me despite my faults. God still uses Samaritan’s Purse despite their shortcomings too.

    • Emily Joy

      Um, it says on the Operation Christmas Child website that they add religious material where legal as well as encourage (read: pressure) children to participate in the follow up bible study materials they provide distributors. There’s no “burden of proof.” It’s on. the. website. As well as many others.

      • lukethomas

        I’m not debating that they add religious material, because it’s obvious that they do. I’m simply questioning this statement you made in the post:

        “And the literature they include is of Graham’s particular brand of Christianity—fundamentalist, conservative, and evangelical.”

        You can’t make statements like this, and not back it up. Prove that Operation Christmas Child is including something more “conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical”.

        Also, after 30 seconds of browsing the Samaritan’s Purse website, it became obvious that Christmas gifts are only a small part of what they do. Ironically, I can buy livestock for a family in need right through their website (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/donate-online/).

        Once again, I just think you really dislike Franklin Graham. I’m fine with that. What I’m not okay with is you tearing apart an organization which is helping hundreds of thousands of people.

        • Emily Joy

          I don’t “dislike” Franklin Graham. I don’t know Franklin Graham. I only read what he says and posts publicly, and a lot of it is morally reprehensible, counterproductive to justice and, as I said, nonsensically hateful. He may be a nice man to have dinner with, but all I see is the vitriol he spews all over the internet, and that’s all I can go off of. For that reason, I don’t support anything that leads to him have a larger platform than he already unfortunately does.

          Furthermore, if you google the curriculum they use, which I will not do for you, you will be able to look at overviews of the content that prove that it is indeed conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical. Again, things that can be discovered with a simple google search are not my “burden of proof.” Thanks.

  • Jim

    This is a bit rough and unfair. I was also very frustrated with Graham’s comments in a number of areas and have written him and Samaritans expressing dismay. But if every wrong comment by anyone completely throws out anything they’ve done, then good-bye Martin Luther, John Wesley, and many others. As for the shoe boxes, I’ve seen the receiving end on the shoe box projects in various countries and the writer here completely caricatures what they contain and what they look like, unless what I’ve seen are just anomalies. I expect those bad examples exist if we are determined to find them, along with many other rotten things done by churches. Usually they are given out by local ministries, not by “white people” (unless it happens to be a white population, as in Kosovo.) I am horrified by much western short term mission and misguided “white knight” approaches. But disparaging in such extreme terms does nothing to really make a helpful difference.

  • phil_z

    Amen. Educating people who want to help is important.

  • Claudia Etienne

    I was involved in a small non-profit organization that was trying to help out in Haiti. I won’t go into all of the challenges that we encountered, but I agree that when we go in with preconceived notions of what people need and how to provide for those needs, it usually does not work out, or least least not as we expect it to. I also came to know about the book mentioned previously–When Helping Hurts– and I highly recommend that anyone and everyone involved in non-profit work and to all churches who do missions work.

  • Lee Rainboth

    Thank you for writing this! Even if someone agreed with all of Franklin Graham’s exclusionary, hateful ideologies, any one of all of the other reasons mentioned would still be reason enough to not participate in OCC. Especially the effect on the local economies. Even if some kids really love what they get and it makes a huge impact in their lives, there are better ways to go about it that would invest in local business at the same time while spotlighting local staff members and community leaders rather than the foreign wealthy do-gooders. I would also add to your list the fact that it is simply a very poor model for charity financially, with so much money being wasted. There would be ways to make donors dollars go much further and have an even greater impact on the recipient children if so much focus wasn’t on glorifying the name of Samaritan’s Purse rather than the name that they claim to glorify. I am an American who has been living in Haiti for the last 9 years and have been involved with a number of groups who have received the shoeboxes. Yes, I have seen many children filled with joy from the gifts but I have never seen anything in the boxes that couldn’t have been purchased locally (probably for less money) and I have yet to see anyone’s soul saved by a shoebox. I’ve also seen all of the evangelical tracts immediately discarded on the ground polluting the environment because the kids couldn’t care less about them. I’m also glad that you pointed out the illustrations on the boxes. An organization that depicts the children they are giving to in such a way are clearly out of touch with the local cultures that they are involved in. Write on Emily Joy!

  • Susan

    I am wondering if the size box you use is different than
    mine. By the time I put in a tooth brush and paste, soap and face cloth,
    hairbrush or comb, pencils, paper (lined, plain and colored), markers or
    crayons, socks, bowl and/or cup, a ball, a stuffed animal, and hard candy,
    there isn’t a lot of room in my box to put in a lot of “cheap trinkets and
    toys.”

    I find it helpful to have a gender
    and age range when buying for a child. I.e. the type of art/school supplies and
    socks I send are determined by this information. And before I buy, I pray for guidance. But it
    sounds like you are saying that what I think I am hearing from God is wrong.
    And that if anyone else is praying about what to buy is wrong?

    Your idea that OCC boxes tend to be filled with cheap
    plastic crap seems to be overly generalized. How many folks “on the ground”
    were in your sample poll? 50? 100? Even if you talked to 200 people that would
    cover only a fraction of the boxes that
    are sent in each year. Not trying to be argumentative, just trying to
    understand how you came up with such a blanket statement regarding the totality
    of boxes collected each year.

    Finally I find it troubling that you are presuming to know
    the heart and other acts of charity of “privileged white children.”
    “… privileged children are learning to assuage their guilt by shipping off
    boxes of trinkets and making no actual sacrifices in the service of justice.”

    Our church has supported OCC at least a decade.
    But it would be good to have a conversation (next year since we
    are already in full collection mode) about Mr. Franklin and pray about our
    involvement in the future. Thanks for raising these points.

    • Emily Joy

      “it sounds like you are saying that what I think I am hearing from God is wrong”

      This blog has nothing to do with “what people are hearing from God.” What I am saying is that the necessary supplies that you mention can be gotten to children in ways that are far less harmful and come with far less bagged than OCC. Perhaps if you feel God calling you to be a part of getting those supplies to children, you should look into other ways of going about it besides OCC.

      • Susan

        Emily Joy, Thanks for your response.
        One of the great things about OCC is that kiddos can and do get involved in buying the contents for their box. I’ve seen many from my lower income neighborhood make those kinds of sacrifices. The recipients are not the only beneficiary. The givers also receive much. Which is why I took exception to your comment about “privileged while children.” You can’t know their heart, feelings, motivations. In my city these givers are (in too many cases) lower class but still would be considered privileged when compared to the children of the world.

        And I have and continue to participate in other ways of getting aid to kiddos. Just 2 examples. I am active in getting aid to refugee children in the ME and I’ve been to the remotest part of India (where OCC doesn’t go) to be part of a shoe box ministry there. Some of the recipients were children from a nomadic tribe and all were in extreme poverty were they received no presents ever from their families. We did buy all the boxes and supplies in India although from a majour city and not from a local vendor. For many of the kiddos we reached, there were no local toy “shops” or any shops at all in the Himalayan mountains.

        And I think that how I spend my money, time, and energy is directed by prayer. So whether I participate with OCC or not, is a matter of prayer for myself and those in my church. While OCC might be viewed as a flawed program of aid, God does lead some to participate. I believe that is where I was supposed to help in these past 10 years. I have no regrets or shame for being part OCC.

        And I am still curious about your poll size and other issues I addressed. But I am sure that responding to folks on this thought-provoking post is not your only duty in a day. Thanks for replying to what you did.

  • Jesusismyquarterback

    When he hosted Palin, Trump, Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch as guests of honor at Billy’s birthday in 2013, his last shred of credibility dissolved in the acid of politics. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sarah-palin-donald-trump-attend-billy-graham-95th-birthday-party-article-1.1510688

  • Luke Walker

    I’m not a fan of Franklin and Billy Graham. I always recommend Gospel for Asia for Christmas gifts. You can buy chickens, goats, cows, and 100% of your giving goes straight to the family (I’m not sure if Oxfam and Heifer International do that) AND they preach the amazing, good news of free forgiveness through Jesus Christ and him crucified for sinners.

    As far as “true justice” goes, ironically, the prophet Zechariah’s definition would have included all the Mosaic laws regarding cross dressing and homosexual behavior.

  • Jeff Moran

    I have been on 15 short mission trips to various Latin American countries, and I have some of the same questions that are raised by this essay, i.e., sometimes it seems like we are the “great, white gods from the north come to spend a few moments with some of those that we need to save”. So, with the PET Mobility Project (http://petinternational.org/), we like to think that we are providing a truly useful tool for Jesus’s “least of these my brothers (and sisters)”. But we must always be conscious of local customs and needs. And we don’t beat people over the head with religion; rather, we let the “good work” speak for itself. And we are repaid when sometimes, the leg-disabled persons who receive PETs come to us and wish blessings on us and our children and our children’s children until the end of time.

  • Claudia Lacoskie

    Wow. Thanks for the info. All of which, I researched and is true. I think, my son and I will just put together toys, for the Marine ‘ s Toys fpr Tots and support American children. They need our love and blessings too.

  • Dan Burrell

    And for some reason I always thought the Grinch was a male. Wow, Emily Joy….who licked the stripes off your candy cane? I’ve actually met recipients of the boxes in my travels around the world and can assure you that they are received with real joy and gratitude. Your leftist/progressive views have sucked the humanity and generosity out of your soul and left you intolerant and shrewish. How sad. SJW’s are too frequently becoming as “fundamentalist” in their philosophy and attitude as what they so loudly hate on. Your tirade is Exhibit A.

    • Emily Joy

      Your comment is entirely ad hominem attacks so I was going to leave it alone, but I felt compelled to tell you as one adult human to another: you may want to re-think using that candy cane metaphor.

      • Dan Burrell

        I chose the candy cane metaphor very specifically and seriously, go back and re-read your article. It has the potential to rob a lot of little kids out of the joy of getting a fun gift and a gospel message simply because you want to be PC. I’m totally unimpressed with your philosophy and your thinking. That’s not “ad hominem” — that’s the consequences of your own words.

    • MTkill_a_manJaro

      “I’ve actually met recipients of the boxes in my travels around the world and can assure you that they are received with real joy and gratitude.”
      Example, please?

      Ive been to the philippines when the shoeboxes were distributed (in the south island of mindanao) and I have experienced the type of reaction that the article speaks of. The toys and trinkets are nice and thankfully since american culture has permeated filipino culture doesnt make culture shock so bad. But the manner in which they are given is very much like bribery. Not to mention that the essentials that they need that are in the boxes dont go very long.
      The article was in no way saying lets not be charitable but id think twice about polishing your halo that you think you deserve for filling a shoebox for a demented man who will NEVER fill his daddy’s shoes

      • Dan Burrell

        At least be honest — you don’t like Franklin Graham because he offends your leftist/liberal values so you are quite willing to steal joy and gifts from little kids to satiate your hatred. I really wonder how folks like you all sleep at night.

  • Panty Puddles

    1. Don’t put in cheap trinkets then. Place yourself in their shoes and figure out what you would want. Hygiene products, a quality piece of clothing, educational materials, and a meaningful toy, for example.
    2. I have a feeling the children in these countries don’t know who Graham is, and if they do, won’t have access to his views, nor would they care the moment they open their shoe box. Their needs are above the opinions of a man thousands of miles away.

    • Emily Joy

      Hey Panty Puddles,

      The religious and political views of Franklin Graham definitely effect the kids when they are proselytized during the shoebox handout process and then pressured into participating in followup “bible study” programs designed to get a “conversion” so Graham can claim millions of lives “saved.” So. There’s that.

      -The Grump

      • Panty Puddles

        True, from where you sit in a comfortable chair. For those kids, they don’t care. They just want something fresh to clothe their backs, tools to learn, and a toy for play. Your opinion is your own – it’s not as bad as one vegan suggesting we stop donating animals to be eaten by people in third world countries. Their needs are different. Their philosophies are different. Proselytizing is the least of their worries.

      • Panty Puddles

        True, from where you sit in a comfortable chair with most of your needs met, spiritually, financially, academically, etc. For those kids, they don’t care. They just want something fresh to clothe their backs, tools to learn, and a toy for play. Your opinion is your own – it’s not as bad as one vegan suggesting we stop donating animals to be eaten by people in third world countries. Their needs are different. Their philosophies are different. Proselytizing is the least of their worries.

        • No_6

          It’s also the hallmark of a Westerner who is “well off” to devote time to defending the figurehead of an organization (Graham), rather than giving credit to those who actually keep the organization afloat and are doing the HARD work: docs, nurses, aid workers on the front lines. Most people around here who defend Graham are likely to only think about those doing the ACTUAL work when they come back on a leave from the field. There are too many people in this comment thread who have spent far too much time defending the well-off white man while citing their own idealized narratives of the children who accept the boxes and give the idealized response. That’s a problem.

      • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

        Saved threw Jesus Christ isn’t that good thing? so it’s now his political views you dislike?

  • Tim

    This article is another great example that what the “love everybody” folks really mean is love everybody except the people who disagree with your theology or politics. You dislike the politics and theology of Franklin Graham so now he and everything the organization has done should be seen as harmful and shouldn’t be supported. Your verification for how ineffective these shoeboxes are is two ministry friends who don’t think the shoeboxes are helpful. So according to your article can I assume that the 124 million shoeboxes that have been distributed in the last 25 years have done harm all over the world while making Franklin Graham rich? I’m glad you have taken on the appalling injustice of Operation Christmas Child.

    • Emily Joy

      To say that this is “loving everybody except the people who disagree with your theology or politics” is ridiculous. I neither love nor hate Franklin Graham, I don’t KNOW Franklin Graham. All I’m saying is that his views are hateful and the net effect of OCC is negative, so there are better places to put your charity energy, time, money and resources.

      • Cheryl Teel

        Ms. Joy, what, in your estimation, IS the net effect of OCC? I mean, HOW is it so negative? And how does $25 – $40 out of your pocket to fill a shoebox that will give impoverished children joy affect the amount of charity that you are left to give elsewhere? I just don’t understand your angst against OCC and the children that it brings so much joy to!

      • Tim

        At least have the integrity to admit that the real issue here is that you don’t like Franklin Graham’s politics and theology, so you are saying that the OCC program is therefore bad. The point of your article is that Franklin Graham isn’t your kind of “christian” so you feel justified to slam him and his ministry. Your doing what you accuse him of only your justified.

      • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

        What is his views have to do with Christmas boxes, another words you just said all this was pieced together cause you don’t like the guys views. Did you decide to hate the boxes before or after the guy?

    • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

      What is his views have to do with Christmas boxes, another words you just said all this was pieced together cause you don’t like the guys views. Did you decide to hate the boxes before or after the guy,?

  • Matthew Rodante

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you
    in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

    If ever there was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this is
    it.

    I strongly disagree with this article. I applaud the author for her persuasive and
    passionate writing style. However, I
    chastise her for her manipulation of the truth and illogical arguments. And although it is not politically correct, I
    confidently go a step further and challenge Christians (those who have
    dedicated their lives to Christ) to discern prayerfully before posting something
    so negative against a man of God.

    At this point, some are sure to have taken issue with me and
    are asking who I am to share such strong thoughts. That is a fair question.

    I am someone who has been on the other end of the Operation
    Christmas Child boxes. Not on the
    receiving end. I have bought, packed and
    shipped like many of you; however, I also have handed the boxes to needy children
    sitting in the African dirt at the end of a week long VBS. I have personally seen the tears. I have personally seen the joy. I personally shared the Gospel, as it was
    translated to Setswana, to hundreds of children right before they received
    their boxes. (Yes, it is a requirement
    of the program to share the Gospel with every child that receives a box.) And
    this is supposedly a bad thing? I
    thought this was the Great Commission with which Jesus commanded His disciples.

    Please pray and discern each point carefully. I cannot speak for every box and every child
    around the world, but I can speak for the hundreds of children who received
    boxes from the mission team Melissa and I led.

    1. Supporting Operation Christmas Child
    means supporting the “ministry” of Franklin Graham.

    There are two separate issues here. 1) This logic is saying that if you disagree
    with someone’s views, then you should not support even their good causes. This is completely divisive. So if I disagree with Mr. Graham, I cannot
    support sacrificing time and money to make bring joy to a child. That common logic is exactly what holds
    ministries back from reaching their potential.
    2) “His Facebook and Twitter
    feeds are a never-ending font of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic,
    xenophobic and otherwise bigoted vitriol.” This is an extreme statement
    against someone who regularly preaches the Gospel, without washing it down in
    the name of political correctness. No
    man is without sin, and F. Graham is no exception. So someone is going to examine his every
    written word for the past few years and quote the most repulsive things they
    can find. Did you read them in their
    entirety? Graham loves all people
    including homosexuals, but he thinks that lifestyle is a sin. He also had a rant about Muslims. For those posts, how many times more did he
    write about loving people, being kind and generous and healing? Oh, we don’t care b/c that doesn’t suit the
    author’s agenda.

    2. The children these shoeboxes are going to
    do not actually need the things they contain.

    Not only did the hundreds we distributed need many of the
    enclosed toiletries, socks, pens, etc., they were extremely grateful for them. This
    is not just a falsity, it is a flat out lie.

    3. It disrupts the local economy.

    On a 2-3 week mission trip in 2005 and after living here for
    the last 5 months, I have not seen one toy store. And in
    no way can my wife or I figure how it disrupted the local economy. Of course if this poor logic were continued, then
    why would anyone give anything to anyone who lives in a poor area?

    4. The shoeboxes themselves are both racist
    and sexist.

    Please look at the picture again. Does anything seem wrong with it? And yes, many children here, possibly most
    often don’t wear shoes. How is that
    racist? How is the truth racist? Look at the picture again please. Also, sexist?
    There is a clear liberal LGBT agenda throughout this article. In the vast majority of countries around the
    world, boys are expected to play with boy toys and vice versa. If Operation Christmas Child distributed
    dolls to boys in many countries, boys caught playing with the dolls would be
    chastised, humiliated and beaten. But this
    author has the mentality that we as Americans are supreme and must take it on
    ourselves to force our values on everyone else…regardless of whether they
    agree.

    5. It’s not just a charity—it’s an
    evangelism machine for conservative Christianity.

    And this is supposedly a bad thing? If this author is truly a Christian, she
    should be applauding this point. I
    am. By my filling and returning a box, I
    am ensuing not only that a child has a chance at a good Christmas, but also,
    that s/he hears the Gospel.
    Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    6. It encourages reliance on white people to
    solve problems.

    So is she saying no black, Hispanic, Asian or other
    minorities contribute boxes or work for Operation Christmas Child? That’s not true. Also, this is not solving a significant
    problem at all. This is not supplying
    clean water, mosquito nets, a solution to poverty, etc. This is a gift on one day a year. This whole point is baseless and
    unfounded.

    7. It contributes to a culture of unexamined
    faith and half-hearted “justice.”

    Wrong on 7 out of 7. Ironically
    and unfortunately for the author, she used the word “unexamined” which couldn’t
    better describe her and the Bible. Aside
    from a brief Scripture here or there, she has left the rest of the Word
    completely “unexamined.” For all her
    many words and tirades about homosexuality, she fails to quote one
    Scripture. Why? (Because they don’t
    align to her biased, preconceived views of the organization.) She also bashes the organization as an “evangelism
    machine” accusing them of saying, “that all those who do not believe as they do
    will be eternally, consciously tormented in hell forever by God.” She again fails to offer any Scriptural
    evidence here. I can think of a dozen
    applicable Scriptures off the top of my head.
    The first that comes to mind is when Jesus said something about being
    the way, truth and life. No man comes to my father but through…Wait, it
    actually seems like a certain Mr. Graham just might have actively examined his
    faith. The author on the other hand…not
    so much.

    In Christ,

    Matthew Rodante

    • Panty Puddles

      And like I mentioned to her, “being pressured to attend Bible Study is not something they’ll find distasteful. This is usually a problem for Western people who don’t face the obstacles of being truly, truly poor”. Most Westerners can hop into a car to buy organic kale at Whole Foods if they so choose, get their hair coloured purple because it’s fashionable, or fight for the rights of a cow in a PETA demonstration. We are at that stage in society here in the UK, in America, etc. These people are not. All they want is food, clothes, and an education. Arguments over religion and proselytizing is the least of their worries.

      • Helena Hoogstad

        “All they want is food, clothes, and an education.” This is so very condescending!

    • Cheryl Teel

      Thank you for such a thoughtful reproach to this article.

    • mirele

      Franklin Graham does not represent Jesus. He represents the far right of the American political spectrum. He’s an embarrassment.

      I’d rather go to hell than spend eternity with the likes of self-righteous, I know better than you Franklin Graham and his fanboys and fangirls. I’m dead serious.

  • Nicole Yandle

    I am so with you at the heart of your argument, and at the same time it seems painfully obvious that your argument is not based off your experience in 3rd world countries, forgive me if this is not accurate. I love where your heart is at, and also, it seems like your opinions are based off your disdain for mr. graham, more than they are your educated first hand experience with how occ impacts the world. 1 I’ve never ever seen a toy store in Africa and I’ve been to 7 countries. But I did hear at least 5 stories from adults about how OCC played a significant role in their commimg to know Jesus. as I said, I agree with you on so many levels but something in this post didn’t sit right with me. Is your hatred of Graham that much different than His hatred for who ever else? Perhaps, I’m misreading the situation. I’m tempted to press back against my propensity to forget that what’s “loving” isnt always “nice”. I realize that the truth is often offensive. Id love to hear your thoughts

    • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

      Nailed it

  • Lorna

    Personally, i happen to be in East Africa right now. I have seen kids when they recieve random toys and they love it! As well as usually i send underwear in the shoeboxes which is also needed for boys and girls. It is not bigotry to lable the shoeboxes for girls and boys its nessecity. Not only that but it is not creating dependancy on the west at all because its a one time thing; if they did it in the same village year after year that would create dependancy but they don’t therefore no dependancy is created. As for the Franklin Graham stuff…whatever i mean seriously you can’t create a little joy in the world because someone rubs you the wrong way? As for the tracts just because they are provided doesnt force the child to chose Christianity over the rest of the religons out there. And I find it apauling that you bash Christianity so much in this article you are no better than franklin. Honestly, freedom of speech is an amazing gift that people misuse without realizing that they are bashing people. My personal belief is the GLBTQ is a choice people make not a birth thing but that is my belief and you can’t bash me for it. Just like yours is the opposite but you dont find me bashing you or your religion. Just because one or two or even a thousand Christians make poor choices in their words doesnt mean we are all bad through and through…thats the great thing about Jesus’ love for us we screw up but he forgives us for our bad language and even for bigotry. The problem is the world has a problem comprehending that someone could love us that much. He does. And he forgives. This thing called humanity and freedom of choice sometimes takes us down the wrong road but its the love of God that stears us back to the right road! Anyways, my apologies if any of this offends you. Be blessed.

  • Hannah

    I’ve stopped doing OCC because of Franklin Graham’s hateful views, but mostly because it is basically a bribe to try to convert people (children no less! ugh!) to Graham’s horrible version of Christianity, a religion that the world could use a lot less of.

    • Cheryl Teel

      Wow

    • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

      Lol bribes of his horibble version of Christianity really, maybe you should read the bible and read about his horrible version Christianity.

      • Hannah

        It’s people like Graham why I left christianity altogether. I was raised in his horrible christianity. I’m currently in therapy from its effects.
        I’d love to see this version of christianity burn to the ground.

  • lostie815

    This blog post comes across as simply you disagreeing with Franklin
    Graham. Not supporting Graham’s organizations because his worldview offends is valid enough. The rest is scraping the barrel for weak reasons to refute OCC,
    while brushing over their positive impact, just so you can have a
    Buzzfeed-style list of points.

    I did enjoy reading through the comments and hearing about the merit of charities, both OCC and others. However, the way it’s written, I don’t see how the post is going to change anyone’s mind who doesn’t already agree with you.

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  • David Chang

    I agree that Franklin Graham is a very, very BAD person — this is because of his own confession! Franklin confessed that he is a sinner. You can ask him and he won’t deny it. The fact is, maybe this is not the kind of good that you want to see, doesn’t mean that it is not the kind of good that meet these children’s need. The day they receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior means they will eternal life. This is not about Franklin Graham, this is about the Lord Jesus Christ who died for the sins of this lost and dying world.

    ps: This is not about Americans feeling good, it is about doing good in the Name of Christ.

  • Big Giant Head

    Why such hateful bigotry against fellow Christians? Why in the world do you hate evangelism – are you that ashamed of Jesus??????

  • JWinter777

    Thanks for this article. After reading it I am more motivated to participate in OCC.

  • melanienlee

    I began doing the charity gift thing circa 1981 when I answered a letter from the U.S. Post Office’s Operation Santa Claus, and my brother and I brought gifts to a poor Hispanic family in the Bronx. The following year we went to a poor Black family in a welfare hotel in Harlem. I and sometimes other family members went visiting families around Christmas throughout the years, including once or twice in my own neighborhood of Corona, Queens, NY. Unfortunately, thanks to known sex offenders handling children’s letters to Santa, the rules have changed. You can still answer a Santa letter through the Post Office, but you can’t visit the families anymore. BTW, I’m African-American, part Hispanic, part Native American, NYC-born, well-educated, and monetarily poor. I am also a born-again Christian for about 35 years, but definitely not a right-winged Republican.

    Then there’s Operation Christmas Child, where you don’t have specific requests from a specific child, and you can’t visit unless OCC flies you overseas, and the gifts aren’t necessarily distributed in December. I first started participating in OCC through my church in Elmhurst, Queens, and sometimes I’ve done it on my own. I rely on OCC’s gift suggestion list and on my own desire to create a package that expresses something on my mind or in my heart.

    I’ve often created boxes based upon themes: chocolate (not including meltable chocolate candy, but hard chocolate candy or Toostie Rolls), NY Mets or Yankees, the musical Ragtime (early 20th-century NYC), Barack Obama, Michael Jackson. I’ve even created packages which commemorated my late mother and my dying sister. Yes, I can hear that voice saying: “What would a poor overseas child care about the NY Mets or Ragtime or your dead relatives? This is more about you than it is about those poor kids.” However, a child overseas might have the same intellectual curiosity that I do, and might be curious about New York City culture or Barack Obama or baseball or Michael Jackson. Even if she (usually she) doesn’t get the “theme”, she might still enjoy the gifts. What if it were reversed and I received a shoebox full of essentials plus toys that reflected, say, Soviet history or Ethiopian culture? Whether I enjoyed it or not might depend on who I am and what I receive. We who answer OCC’s call have no way of knowing which child will receive what box. We pray, even trust, that God will match the right box to the right child. I have read of such matches through OCC’s materials, such as the boy who needed a pair of sneakers and received one.

    I, too, after I heard him speak on TV, had my reservations about Franklin Graham. I, too, would hate it if I knew for sure that the kind of Christianity preached to OCC kids was strongly and exclusively the “Southern-fried” Christianity that is fraught with classism, racism, rampant sexism, and pro-Big Business attitudes. How ironic, for example, if my chocolate-themed shoebox went to a child exploited by a chocolate plantation!

    On one hand, there is the new feature on OCC’s website where young adults who received shoeboxes as kids tell how those boxes helped them turn into productive, faith-filled adults. On the other hand, there is the article here questioning OCC’s goodness and effectiveness. Also, there’s another article, not by OCC, suggesting what to give and not to give. Don’t give stuffed animals, that article says, because they can make little children cry. Then I see comments here telling how a young hospitalized child in Russia was comforted by a teddy bear. I would hope that OCC would check the contents and choose carefully which countries and which regions receive which boxes.

    I have to stop now, but I wanted to share my various thoughts and concerns about this shoebox controversy.

  • gts-r is retarded

    You are fat and ugly

    • Denise Marie Thompson

      Well,that certainly stuck to the tooic at hand.

  • Jonathan Toms-Lucy

    “Machine for conservative Christianity ” Hate to break it to you but liberal and conservative may work for politics but it does not work for faith. Because scriptural conservatism is the only thing that works for faith. Conservitive definition-disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change. The bible and Christianity does not change over time. Culture and exceptance may change but the same requirements still exist. Anything that was a sin then, is still sin. You may say Protestants were liberal christians, that is why I said scriptural conservatism. They argued interpitaion of scriptures. Modern so called liberal/cultural Christians don’t argue scriptural interpretation but just choose to follow the passages they choose to and ignore the rest. And choose 2 or 3 parts of a scripture and think it’s the whole bible. And choose to ignore the parts of the verses written directly after them that explains then.

  • Barbara Dunlap

    Our church supports our local police department’s Shoeboxes for Kids drive. The officers distribute the boxes to kids they meet while patrolling or that they have met throughout the year (maybe while responding to a call). My daughter and I had a great time filling a box with necessities (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.), semi-necessities (lip balm, gloves, socks) and fun stuff (a book, stickers, pens, a journal) for a tween girl. We picked quality items as we asked what we would want if we only got one gift for Christmas.

    I love this program because the officers have a relationship with the kids and that it is local. We aren’t swooping in to an unknown community. These are our literal neighbors. I also love that it is ecumenical (and secular) project. I believe we are commanded to feed the hungry and clothe the naked but we aren’t told to make sure they know we are doing it in the name of Jesus. Sure, if they know that, it’s great, but the important part is the feeding and the clothing.

    • melanienlee

      Barbara Dunlap: I love this! I like that your local police department does this for kids that they know.

      However, we are all part of humanity worldwide, and Jesus even told us that we would be spreading our faith “to the ends of the earth”. (Of course, from the perspective of Israel, the Americas would be the ends of the earth!) Also, I don’t know if local police in those places overseas from us would have the resources that we in the USA and other “first-world” countries have. There are times and places for both local and global outreach.

  • Peyton Harris

    I have no regrets participating in Operation Christmas Child, and saw how the local churches in Kazakhstan were able to take a leadership role in distribution…each year, volunteers would inspect the boxes for inappropriate items. I found Operation Christmas Child was very open to constructive criticism of their program. It is so easy to bash a Christian organization because someone doesn’t agree with or like a leader. It is so easy to bash them for making a cultural blunder. I remember when I participated in a project for Friends of Turkey to mail NTs (New Testaments) to Turkey (30 years ago). My youth group prayed over and sent dozens of NTs to Turkey. Later, I read an article that bashed this type of service claiming some of the NTs were burned, trashed, used as toilet paper. I felt regret having assisted in this. In July, 2015 I met a Turkish believer who told me that she knew many whose first exposure to Jesus came from these NTs that were sent over via Friends of Turkey. It is so easy to bash and criticize, I am choosing to Thank Jesus.

  • Ausin Elizabeth R

    7 reasons I don’t understand this post:
    1. Hating people is wrong, hating the sinner is wrong and is equal to murder. But hating the sin is definitely not and homosexuality is a sin. (Hebrews 13:4 along with a long list of other verses) and if killing a pregnant woman is considered a double homicide how is abortion not murder. Wasn’t Jesus and his deciples constantly hated because they spoke what is clearly sin? (no, I don’t agree with hating people from other countries, gay hate, racism and as for sexism I’ve spent 4 years wanting to be in the army so no) and the last one is actually not wrong, America in history had our conservation camps where we contained americans with japanese heritage in and kept others out. DO I agree with how they were treated? No, but I can’t fully ignore the thought of how many attacks wouldn’t happen if we used a stronger filter of people coming in from the middle east? Not really, but I spent 6 months at Ft. Leonard wood trained to be prepared to kill them so you can’t honestly blame me.
    2. Some people are practical and ship paper, balls and toy cars, things like that their use is universally known. Also if nothing else it’s like a reminder that people care. God cares.
    3. Most of the people getting the boxes couldn’t afford the local toys but of all the points, this one is one of two reasonable one in my opinion.
    4. This one is ridiculous. See number 1.
    5. This is a christian ran organization, what does the author expect? Buddhism? I honestly believe the fire an brimstone preaching is the best. Revelations 3:16 I’d rather be on fire than someone sitting in the pew in the routine of things because they stay in their comfortable home, got to their cozy pew with their peaceful pastor.
    6.Deuteronomy 15:7-8. Sure it isn’t giving them ALL they need but granted something is better than nothing.
    7. I totally get the heifer international suggestion. The is the point I couldn’t hate. I still don’t fully agree with but more so than any other point. I’ve done Heifer international, compassion international and the operation christmas child before. Just because the purpose of the shoe boxes is different than feeding the families it is still making them happy and gives the church some sort of outreach. and what good is a church without a voice or feet?
    You may not have agreed with all or most of this article but you may have. Her opinion on this kind of surprised me on this since she does spoken word poetry and I love their poems.

  • Covenant6

    Remarkable compilation of considerations and affirmed over and over in many ministries. Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton outlines all of this well and provides resources
    for better critical thinking as well as being a compassionate people.

  • You are a sick evil person.

  • Dennis

    It’s clear what this author did. She started with her social disagreements with Franklin Graham & then built an argument to fit her agenda of discrediting him. Calling him an embarrassment to Christianity is actually proof that Ms. Emily is less concerned with true Christianity (see Ephesians 4:29) & more concerned about using this platform to tear down someone else who differs from her perspective. Her arguments are based on what others told her, conjecture, and clear biasses. Poorly developed & even worse non-Christian as she tore down someone publicly to promote her view. The ultimate consequences are she accomplishes the same thing Franklin Graham did if we ascribe to her thought process: embarrass the faith.

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    #1 elicits a “NO. NO. NO. A THOUSAND TIMES NO.” Supporting Operation Christmas Child doesn’t mean supporting the “ministry” of Franklin Graham; it means supporting Operation Christmas Child. I am, by no means, a fan of Graham, and the juxtaposition between his attitudes toward Muslims in this country and his ministering to Muslims in other countries is a bit jarring. But that is only testament to God’s grace/power to use a broken vessel; it’s hardly reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In Philippians 1:15-18, Paul basically says that he doesn’t give a crap who preaches Christ or what their motivation is. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to set our standards higher than Paul’s as to who gets to play.

    #2 basically is saying that if you can’t get it 100% right, don’t do it at all. Put another way, God only uses that which is perfect. Bull.

    The author presents zero evidence that the “if” of #3 is even an issue, so I’ll just move on.

    The bolded part of #4 elicited an “oh, good grief” from me. But I read on, and went from derision to confusion. The author talks about the “boxes handed out by churches” and what they “come emblazoned with”. I’ve attended 4 churches that participate in OCC, and only one handed out any boxes. And they were — wait for it — unadorned shoeboxes, provided solely for those who did not already have one handy. If there are issues of racial caricature, that is something wrong with *that* church; it’s no reason to abandon OCC. The remainder of this point is just a rehash of the error of #1.

    I have a lot of beefs with “conservative Christianity”, but if a person hates it so much that they’re willing to discard other aspects of genuine ministry (as noted in #5), then the cart is before the horse, and the horse has been shot in the head. Multiple times.

    #6 is just a load of crap. My parents gave me presents because they loved me. Not once did I come to the conclusion that I needed my parents to give me things. Besides, if there is misperception about motive, that doesn’t mean that the action shouldn’t be taken.

    #7 is just a rehash/summary of the other points with the non sequitur addition of vaunting all this to an issue of self-examination and justice.

    • Liz

      I wish I could give you a couple hundred thumbs-up, your comment deserves it.

      • BrendtWayneWaters

        I shall consider the other 199 applied. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  • I have worked at the centers to help send out the shoeboxes and have also met many adults who received these boxes and have told me that there lives where changed because of receiving one of these shoeboxes as a child. These are given to children not just at Christmas time but all year long to children some of whom have never received a gift in their life. Inside of each box is is ‘The greatest Journey’ which is a discipleship program that is taught to each child about the love of Jesus, so that they too can know him and be saved. It’s more about the gift of Jesus packed inside than the toys, though those gifts are nice too. I am truly saddened that you would write this post against something that is helping to bring salvation to millions around the world. Sometimes people even risk their lives in the name of Jesus to deliver them to places that people are not allowed to know him. As far as Franklin Graham goes, every single Christian on this earth does something at one time or other that may not be a good way to act, but we are not the ones to decide whether someone else’s actions are right or wrong the only one who gets to make that decision is God. Kingdom work is being done with these shoeboxes why would you want to stop millions of children from receiving love and the hope in knowing Jesus Christ that is delivered to them along with this simple shoebox full of seemingly small gifts that could end up being the biggest gift they may ever receive?

  • IrishEddieOHara

    Your first paragraph really says it all. Franklin Graham stands for the morality of the Bible – and that just twists your knickers into a knot.

  • Katie

    This hurts my heart. The point of giving the gift of a shoebox is so much more than political agendas and preferences, so much more than gender labels. We are far too easily offended and far too easily willing to look at the bad over the good. I recently had a discussion with a friend who was talking about the hypocrisy of Christianity, and the fact that so many “Christians” can do so many bad things, hold harsh judgments, and just be plain wrong. What I have to say is this, Christianity isn’t about Franklin Graham and his opinions nor the things he says or does. Or the things anyone says and does who claims to be a Christian for that matter. Christianity is about Christ and His message. And that is to love selflessly, to give selflessly, to bring joy and aid when it is in our capability to offer. OCC is about Christ’s message, His love, His views, His statements. So here are MY 7 reasons to do a shoebox. 1. Supporting Operation Christmas Child means supporting Christ and his command to love and give. 2. The children getting these shoeboxes actually DO need the articles in them. Clothing, joy, merriment of surprise and the fact that someone thought enough of them to send something – regardless of it’s physical necessity. It could be the matter of a heart necessity. 3. The contents of the shoe boxes aren’t conformed enough to bring ‘disaster’ to a local business (the likely of which anyway is extremely low if you see where these boxes are sent). 4. The shoeboxs aren’t raciest or sexist. They are to provide equality to the distribution of ages and genders who receive boxes… Not so you can put dolls in one and trucks in another… They are your boxes to pack as you wish. So choose a girl sticker, and send a truck if you’d like… The joy will be just the same. Because the shoebox goes beyond ‘things’. 5. It IS a gift from Christians, but from all sorts of different backgrounds. No just from hypocritical ones. The children opening the boxes only see love, and that someone thought of them. They don’t know your political or spiritual preferences. 6. All races pack shoeboxes… and distribute them. Love is color-blind, and so should the issue be of packing, sending , and receiving shoeboxes. 7. The boxes aren’t about justice, or absolving guilt for anything or sins (that’s not how sanctification works anyway), it’s about mercy.

    So please, DO pack a shoebox this year. Many of these boxes go to war torn places which have robbed many babes of childhood – parents are killed and the children are left to assume adult responsibilities. The gifts in these boxes bring joy and restore a bit of childhood to these precious ones that’s been lost.

    • Denise Marie Thompson

      One thing I see is many hearts hurt by this article.We are not forcing a rich American version of Christmas,but out of love for Jesus and others ,people of all races and economic situations do this every year to start our Christmas season sharing LOVE.

  • Wendy O’Neil

    I think it’s ridiculous that what you call Franklin Graham’s “hateful vitriol” is really just an opinion different from yours–one which approximately half the country holds. So I guess you think half the country are hateful monsters, so unfortunate to be less enlightened than yourself. And don’t think I’m a Franklin Graham fan, because I’m not. I didn’t even know who he was before I read your post. I appreciate what you’re trying to do…I think…but this whole post came off as really superior and judgy of others who are honestly trying to help. I don’t mean Franklin Graham. I think it’s wrong to take any salary from a so-called charitable organization. I mean those who are honestly trying to help. But Oxfam as a better alternative? Really? They are just a massive corporation that keeps most of the profits, uh, I mean donations, for themselves.

  • Dani (Deb)

    and for the record for those that have read my comments. I have no problem either way on the boxes because people do it because they think they are helping. My problem with organizations if you would take the time to research it is when this much money is donated but all the “leaders” of the organizations and workers take up most of the money. I think whatever a person chooses to do…do so with prayer and with the Lord..that is all that matters.

  • Helena Hoogstad

    Thank you for this post, Emily Joy. I’ll be sharing it.

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  • Annoyed

    How sad that you would even consider using your own politics to attempt to influence a tiny moment of joy in a child’s life. You are guilty of the same hypocrisy and self serving agenda as you are pointing out in your piece.

  • Gráinne O’Carroll

    Is this a joke? Objecting to sending inappropriate gifts is fine, but don’t substitute them with something worse. Gifting animals, as Oxfam and Heifer International do, is not just offensive, it is causing the problems we are hoping to alleviate. Just like shoe box gifts, sending livestock also “encourages reliance on white people to solve problems”. As for, “Most of the kids I know would get SUPER excited about buying a goat for someone…” It is not about the person buying, as stated above. 90% of Asians and Africans are lactose intolerant (http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X2007001100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en), so gifting cows and goats is just mean. More animals means more mouths to feed – Heifer International animals have “zero-grazing” requirements, which means food needs to be brought to the animals. Food that is desperately needed by the people they are supposed to be helping. In countries where water is scarce, we should not give animals that use 10 times more water than growing crops would (a single cow can consume 90 litres of water in a day). Families who have lost animals to drought are now growing crops and experiencing food security, better nutrition, and access to healthcare and education as a result of a steady income (http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/sep/12/human-stories-gideon-mendel-hunger-kenya). Livestock is a leading cause of desertification: Ethiopia has one of the largest cattle herds in the world (50 million), yet 40% of the people are starving (http://comfortablyunaware.com/books/food-choice-and-sustainability/). Heifer international ships animals from the USA to Africa at enormous cost – money that could be better spent on seeds or water projects. Not to mention the CEO’s $320k (+ benefits) salary. Charities that actually help people in poorer nations are: http://www.vegfamcharity.org.uk/about.html; http://www.eastafricanmission.org; http://www.ffl.org; http://www.saleminternational.org/en; and http://foodnotbombs.net/new_site/

  • ILoveBonbons1 .

    I personally believe that homosexuality is not a sin and in equality, and I am quite appalled by Franklin Graham’s obviously hateful behavior towards Muslims, but I don’t think I can get behind your points for a few reasons:
    1. God uses people. He uses rude people, he uses mean people, he uses ignorant people, all for His purpose. He even uses people like Franklin Graham. Mr. Graham’s heart may not truly be in the right place at all times, and I don’t think any good he does excuses him for the rude and inconsiderate things he has said(as some have claimed they do- where does that logic even come from?), but for that he will answer to God and God alone. Perhaps even, he will be the man who, at his end, asks the Lord why he is not in heaven, since he did so many great things, and the Lord will remind him that he did not love or have compassion for others, and that he did not love Him. We just don’t know. But that doesn’t mean these boxes are wrong. In fact, the boxes themselves don’t earn any money for Mr. Graham- they are rather under-funded. More people make them than pay to send them. They go to churches, and they help those churches minister to the people in their areas. Mr. Graham may be the figurehead, but without him, the organization would be fine- the reason the organization runs is because God allows it.
    2. Once upon a time, I was a very poor white child who received a Christmas gift from an anonymous person through the church. It was a baby doll, and it was the first gift I received after my Dad passed away. No, it wasn’t necessary, and no, I didn’t actually need it. But it meant- and still means- so much to me. Someone recognized that a child in need might like a Christmas gift they might otherwise not get(it was certainly much nicer than my other baby dolls). Someone(most likely) prayed for the recipient of that gift. And whoever it was is never going to know what the effect was on me, how much I treasured that doll, or its place on a shelf in my bedroom thirteen years later.
    Anyway, the point of it is, I know what it is like to be thought of when I needed it, exactly when I needed it. The next year, our family was much better off, but it doesn’t mean I needed to be thought of any less. Before that, we had had many anonymous and not anonymous church members feel led to help us in ways they couldn’t have been certain we really needed help in, but did, and it had such an impact on us in our little family, and it continues today. And as a result, I want to do the same.
    3. When you are poor, you need all the help you can get, and all the joy you can receive. The economy in these places doesn’t often include toy shops, and even if it does, most of what I personally send is not toys, but school supplies and other such needs, alongside one or two toys to add a bit of light and joy. If we can give any of what we have to those who need it, we should. When you say things like this you remind me of conservative people who claim we shouldn’t raise minimum wage, that we should put stronger restrictions and have less funding for systems such as wic or food stamps, because it would “hurt business”. We know that when people have more money, they spend more money(most people either do not have the control required to save all of their money, and most people, when they find themselves with slightly more money, will spend the extra on a treat, which HELPS the economy). Think of a child to whom you are sending school supplies and a couple of toys. If the family spends anything at all on school supplies and toys, they don’t have to for a while. They can instead spend the money on food and clothing, which is where more of the demand lies anyway in those areas, and they may even be getting better materials than they would have been able to buy in their own markets. AND the child gets to go to school, become a little more educated, and as we know, education is the best way out of poverty. Some of the boxes are not even delivered during Christmas, but during the summer. What if the family only bothers to buy toys for the Christmas season(this assuming there is a “Christmas Season” in at least some of these places, which I am sure there is). Do you think the families will refuse to buy toys for their children simply because they already received free ones six months ago?
    4. I do not see anything wrong with the pictures on the packages? They are not extreme caricatures of stereotypes; it looks like the artist was trying to depict the picture of the distribution of these boxes and the different areas they go to(without drawing children that may be naked, and while showing a diverse culture). I can agree that it may not be necessary to include such a picture in the first place; I think it is there only to advertise the charity to those who might walk by and pick up the box from their church out of curiosity.
    As for the age and gender labels, I don’t think you thought this through in particular. I’ll go through this from the oldest age group to the youngest.
    Ages 10-14: Girls in this age group need sanitary products such as pads in order to be able to attend school while going through their menstrual cycle. There is even a charity which sends reusable pads to girls in Africa. Boys obviously do not need pads, of course, and upon receiving them may just keep them off to the side, not knowing what they are used for, but knowing they belong to them. Which is great, because someone thought to send them a gift, but also not great, because those could have gone to a girl who needed them. So- and I think it’s the most important in this age group- there needs to be a gender label on these boxes.
    Ages 5-9: Girls in this age group may also need sanitary products, although the need is not as high for most children here.
    Ages 2-4: For this age group, I would have said the labels should be made gender-less. However, a previous comment mentioned- and unfortunately I must agree- that if boys are caught playing with feminine toys, they could get into serious trouble. We live in a world with gender roles, and while for the most part boys and girls receiving these boxes have the same needs, they still cannot play with the same toys freely, and they will still have a difficult time leaving their respective gender roles. It is an area like this where, if my son who plays with dolls wants to send a doll to a boy in another country through OCC, I will have to remind him that he is lucky to live in a country where he can play with dolls without getting into serious trouble, and that in other countries, boys cannot play with dolls. Because I certainly won’t keep my son from wearing pink and rocking a baby, but I can’t say the same for stricter countries and cultures.
    5. I’m not huge on pressuring other people to accept Christ, but I do believe we need to continue to spread the gospel throughout the nations by loving others, by giving our service to others, by helping others in any way we can. To me this seems like one of those things. We’re showing Christ’s love. If we don’t tell them who Christ is, how on earth are we spreading the gospel? Now, obviously people need to be carefully trained in these matters. A distributor, when sharing the gospel, should explain that they are there because someone bigger- God- loved them first, and they want to share that, and so on and so forth, using words and phrases like “I believe,” “I am here because,” “If you want to, you can learn more about Jesus,” rather than words and phrases like “Now that we gave you this gift, you should sign up to come to information sessions on our God,” “these boxes are free, but please come to our bible study”, or “Jesus is the only way to heaven. He says that if anyone does not follow him, they will burn in the fires of hell.” No. You don’t do that. It drives me crazy when people do that. Any time a person accepts Christ because of pressuring statements like those, they are not really accepting Christ into their hearts- they are fearfully following superstition-like demands. Once a person has accepted Christ, then hell can be brought into the discussion as what they have been saved from. But I as a child fearfully held to Christ only because I was afraid of hell, and it was tormenting mentally to have doubts and then to be afraid because of them. Fortunately there is still good news that comes from bad evangelism tactic, and there are children who get these boxes and then grow up to become happy preachers of good news. So I don’t agree with your notion that evangelism and tracks are bad, but I do think they might not be particularly proper. But like I said, God uses people.
    As for the brand of Christianity being too conservative and intolerant, most Christians believe the Bible holds absolute truth, and that nothing in the Bible is untrue. It sounds like you don’t, but even if you do, most tracts include no more than that in regards to conservatism, and while I haven’t seen OCC’s literature, I hardly think it says a thing about homosexuality or immigration or goes into great detail about any teaching other than “Jesus is the only way to heaven!” and then, subsequently, “Here is how to follow Him!”. I suppose most liberal Christians do not believe in talking about Jesus- to anyone- in case they consider it offensive, which I do not understand. Isn’t it better to meet these people in heaven than to get there and find out you could have led them to Christ, and that they could have been saved and could be with you? I do not talk about it most of the time, but I espouse my own beliefs amongst my friends when it comes up in conversation, and I say things like “Jesus loves you, God Bless!” to homeless people I give to on the street, so I am not particularly outward with my faith, but I don’t believe silence is the answer either.
    6. This one is tricky, because I think there gets to be a point where you give too much aid to a person and they come to expect it, but I don’t think most of what we do and send causes them to rely on us. Sending livestock is more like sending an investment for livelihood, for example. Providing medical aid is basic humanity. If you build and fund a school, you fund the education of a group which can then use what they have learned in their government and in their economy and in their hospitals. There is a problem of foreign aid in poor countries, but the problem lies more in the fact of monetary aid sent to governments which don’t necessarily use it to aid their poor.
    Once again I feel like you are spouting more conservative- like ideals here. When you’re poor, you rely on others because you HAVE to, not because you want to, and you do it when it’s available, not when you think it should be. You don’t make your decisions based on help you might get from some organization in the future, especially not one as general as “white people” or “America”. You look for every opportunity to get out of your situation and become self-reliant. This idea that giving aid to poor people turns them into slobbish, entitled, over-reliant beings is the kind of attitude that assumes the worst in people, that ignorant white conservatives like Mr. Graham use to justify closing the borders to immigrants and stopping government aid to foreign countries, and I feel like that is the idea you are promoting. If you are worried about the people in these countries considering us higher than God, that is a legitimate worry, and I worry about it too. But is it really a good reason not to send a gift to someone who would either greatly need or greatly appreciate it? Besides, many families packing and sending the boxes are not white. Despite how it might seem sometimes, America is quite full of diverse churches. How do you think poor children in Africa feel when they receive a box with a picture of the black family that put it together? How might that affect their perception of the gift? Would it? Food for thought, I suppose.
    7. I still don’t like or agree with Mr. Graham, and to quote you, good intentions do not cover a multitude of sins. I believe he will get what he is due. But until now, I didn’t know he had any hand in OCC at all, so to me it is harder to connect him directly with this.
    I do think we need to be more conscientious about what we put in these boxes and how much use a child in a third world country would get out of those things, but I can’t agree that these children do not need these things or that they do not help. School supplies are a popular addition, and pads are rather common as well. Not to mention, children need to have time to imagine and play. While it is true they could do this without toys, the notion of owning something special for yourself, the ability to express creativity with colors on paper, having something life-like rather than imagining having it… It makes such a difference in a child.
    And lastly, privileged children are not the only children giving, and even so, this guilt you’re saying they’re trying to assuage is once again assuming the worst in people. To some extent, we’re all going to feel a little guilty if we have things that others don’t have or need, and yes, giving assuages that a little bit, but it’s not long before you learn that giving and serving, no matter how much you do it, doesn’t make you any less guilty of having privilege. It doesn’t change the fact that you have privilege, and you’re lucky. Very few people can give solely because they have and others don’t. In fact, most of us have to avoid dwelling on things like that to avoid craziness(it’s sort of like survivor’s guilt, in my opinion. No one can control who lives and who dies(in the end), and no one can control what they are born into. You just have to learn to live with it, and do what you can with what you’ve been given). I give because I want to help other people, because I want to make someone else smile, because I want someone else to feel loved and cared for and to know the love of Christ through whatever it is I can do. My own background plays into it because my family used to be under-privileged, and I can relate to how it feels to be a child who is given opportunities she wouldn’t have gotten without outside help. But it’s because I remember the good it did for me, not because I’ve moved along to a point of financial comfort. That determines the amount I can help, for sure, but I would be helping and serving others regardless. I’ve always enjoyed helping and serving others, underprivileged or not. It just seems like you’re assuming most privileged people give for selfish reasons, and I just don’t think that’s true. My heart is no better than anyone else’s; I can’t possibly believe that the people who meticulously pack as many of these boxes as they can afford are doing it because they feel guilty.
    So, thank you for sharing your heart about this, and I will certainly pray some more about whether doing this in the future is worth any support it might garner for Franklin Graham, because it may not be, but it appears to me as if you constructed your other arguments because you simply needed other arguments to seem valid. You don’t. Give us more information about Franklin Graham, an analysis of what he has said in the past, a list of things he is lobbying for or against. That really is your strongest point, and that is where you need to build.

  • Andrea Townsley

    Just no. This article made me sick to my stomach. If you see race problems everywhere you look, YOU are the problem. Why do you think everyone just puts toys and meaningless things in the boxes?? Our former church had a list of suggested donations each month that consisted of socks, school supplies, candy, soap, toothbrushes, misc toiletries, flashlights and batteries, and the lady who ran the ministry at our church had a group making sewing kits for the older girls and stuffed toys for the littles. Our box this year so far has some of the above items, a pillowcase dress I made, homemade soap to go in a soap holder that doubles as a washcloth (also something I made), chapstick, etc. There are no toys in the box at all! And yes they know what to do with hairbows, how ridiculous to say they wouldn’t.

  • Curtis Martin

    Uber Liberal UCC type here. I have never trusted Franklin as I have felt his motives for returning to the Family Business are suspect. Two words :Talking Cow. I did grow up conservative and I do speak fluent Evangelical. I agree that there are important questions to ask before participating in ANY charity. Free toys arriving in a village where they are misunderstood or are in competition with local businesses is a real problem. Clearly, however, this situation is not always the case as several of these responses indicate. And yes, I would prefer folks sent a duck or a cow via Heifer vs. World Vision as I do believe in full inclusion for LGBT Christians.

    HOWEVER

    This post comes off as mean and petty. As a Liberal Christian who believes that loving your neighbor is the heart of the Christian life as opposed to say the magic words and go to heaven (as the conservative message is often presented), I would implore you to remember that Franklin Graham is your neighbor and mine. I am not planning on supporting Mr. Graham’s ministry any time soon, but I would suggest that the proper focus here is to remind folks of important questions to ask ALL donors to ANY charity and to offer alternative suggestions that coalesce with our progressive values. This comes off as a grudge piece and is no more edifying than the very rhetoric from Mr. Graham thar has so turned you off. We liberals have to remember that love your enemies isn’t just something that we can call conservatives on, but something we have to do as well.

  • wakingdreaming

    Animal gifting through organizations like Heifer International are actually a really terrible idea, too, for many of the same reasons. http://freefromharm.org/agriculture-environment/10-reasons-to-say-no-to-animal-gifting-hunger-orgs/

    • Curtis Martin

      I found that article to be incredibly biased. I am not a vegetarian or vegan and I am just not swayed by that argument. I especially found it revealing that the author runs his own charity which he the recommended folks donate to.

  • Truth InLove316

    I find the condemning tone of this article offensive.

    • Denise Marie Thompson

      Me,also.

  • Denise Marie Thompson

    Not sure if my points made this discussion since I’m new so,sorry if I repeat.My heart was broken by this article.I have never looked at Operation Christmas Child as a quick fix and to make myself feel better.I prayerfully pack my boxes with quality items that will be cherished and needed no matter where they go.For some of these children a toothbrush or s pencil means a lot.I have struggled all my life and am not a rich white American.Because I struggle I know small things mean a lot.As for local businesses if the parents can’t buy anyway how does it hurt?I also sponsor a child through Compassion International which us holistic and asked for a beaded necklace made in Uganda for my birthday. One year and just bought one for a friend.I believe my shoeboxes with God’s Guidance will make a positive impact.As for the Greatest Journey why are you as a Christian bothered by the sharing of the Gospel?It’s offered not forced.

  • chris schillaci

    I worked for occ last year for three days when they had a whse in aurora co on 32 ave between chambers and airport.

    They immediately asked me if i was christian.

    As a joke i said no im catholic.

    No sense of humor in this crowd.

    They had devotions at the beginning of each shift.

    Real scripture only kjv faith in the bible stuff.

    They wanted us to attest to this stuff.

    As a catholic i wouldnt i just sat there.

    I have faith in god and my church not scripture.

    Nobody would talk to me.

    Also the shoeboxes are filled with cheap plastic crap.

    Totally useless garbage.

    In my opinion from what i saw they werent interested in helping those kids.

    They wanted to cheaply convert them.

    They were cheap.

    No coffee mess.

    If it was run by catholics they would have had coffee and donuts.

  • Naropa

    Interesting article. Food for thought. But, the “Give a Goat” is not the best solution. http://awfw.org/no-animal-gifts/

  • Eimai

    I have done Operation Christmas Child in the past and I really like the organization. I choose to do this rather than Toys for Tots, since that way gifts go to children who are the most needy. Toys for Tots seems to just encourage the commercialization of Christmas in a very over-commercialized America.

    I do not support Heifer International or any of the groups that give animals to families overseas. Many of the animals are abused or otherwise harmed. In addition, they are given to families who are very resource-poor in terms of food and water. There have been reports of parents giving food and water to the animal rather than their children, since the animal is “more valuable.” There have also been reports of parents making children drop out of school in order to care for the animals.

    When you look at reports of traditional, plant-based diets vs. meat-based diets, it’s very obvious that diets higher in meat, eggs, and dairy are associated with higher rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Sending animals to these countries is like sending diseases to the people, and it’s a sad life for the animals too.

  • Nan Perkins

    I just watched Greta van Sustrun and she went to the various countries to distribute the boxes and it was so inspirational to see how many children were blessed by the gifts. She showed what is in the boxes and against, she was in several countries. You Re wrong about much here
    More than 11 million children have re either ed these boxes. The. Videos are wonderful. By the way, Great is a member of Scientology! It’s just all about giving ing children a gift who have never err received ed a gift before. MERRY CHRISTMAS

  • John

    You’re so lost…

  • Mark

    What utter trash this hit piece is. Franklin Graham so offended by the shenigans of the establishment in our WH declares himself an independent and here we go. He’s entitled to read and interpret the bible how he sees it and by God Billy Graham not only led by example he taught Franklin the same. A bigot a Trump racist?? Surely pple can see the political process at work here although those that know use God’s word and the bible teaches us to spread his word and by God Franklin is doing just that!!! At the very least he’s not in tabloids or something egrigious and you say Trump is racist. Give me one example? A temporary ban beca use 17 people lost their lives in a visa that never should have been given. Two Boston teenage kids killing by exploding bombs at a sporting event killing many and leaving many more without limbs? No the Muslim faith isn’t responsible. It’s Santa Clause folks. While not one Muslim state besides Jordan who’s pilot died burned alive as his blood on fire dripped from his nose in a steel cage!! These are savages not humans yet you have the odacity to not understand the rage if the pple in our country who are being slaughtered, beheaded by a religous cult that shows no mercy to those who bring medicine. Turn like us while we rape your women and put your children in steel cages and drown them just bec their Christians. Get your head out of your ass bec this piece is the reason why 100s of thousands have died with Christ in their heart and good men have done nothing to wipe out a plague of 30 thousand strong!!! Heck I give Putin credit before I do our own politicians. At least he bombed as m.any as possible and hopefully it’s a better way to go then to see your murderer with a knife coming to take your head while you still breath. Cowards we have been under this administration and by God do not tell me Franklin Graham shouldn’t be sickened by our inactivity to stop this plague now crossing Europe and into Brussels France Germany and every nation that has shown them generosity while they greet one another in their mosque making arrangements for another mass killing. If this is your religion not to act and to let them come to our country then don’t come running when one of your family members have been blown apart in the name of Allah our presidents Holy man!! Disgusting!!

  • fredbird67

    Emily, I must take issue with your assessment on this one. Franklin Graham is taking a stand for truth and righteousness in this sin-poisoned world, and that involves calling out sin and calling a spade a spade. Yeah, you may say that I’m judging, but contrary to popular belief, John 7:24 says that we ARE to judge with a righteous judgment — look it up! Just like Franklin Graham, I am deeply grieved by the moral direction our country has been taking during my entire lifetime (I was born in 1967), and it’s even more sad when those who claim to be Christians go right along with such gross sins as abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism. Needless to say, I will continue with my support of Operation Christmas Child, thank you very much.

    Isaiah 5:20 says “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Now when the Bible says “woe unto…”, that’s pretty bad, as it’s a harsh denunciation from the Lord against whoever’s responsible whatever it is the Lord has a problem with. It grieves my spirit no end that so many Christians so blatantly ignore the Biblical command to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3). Yeah, some may be afraid to rock the boat, but we are in a time when the boat needs rocking in order to bring our country back to the Lord. I, on the other hand, am one of those who’s afraid to refrain from rocking the boat. In a time such as this, refusing to rock the boat when such gross sin is going on is an act of nothing less than cowardice.

  • bvbforlife

    You are ridiculous. You have Satan playing with your mind and you need to get right with God. I’ve seen children in the jungle open these boxes and they enjoy it. And if anyone here is a bigot, it’s you.

  • Nadine

    Bullshit article. Sorry but you’ve missed the point completely. Sick of the nonsense. Your a .com website all you are doing is trying to get money off viewers. Typical. Anyway the comments shut you down pretty hard. Well done to those shaming and calling out this crazy person.

    • Nadine

      Also why Ms joy, (assuming no one has married you yet. Honestly who would want to marry the grinch.) You seem to only reply to those in favour of what you write.. So I know I won’t get a reply from the likes of you.

  • Kaye

    What a hateful person. You want to deny children in other parts of the world, clothing/socks, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toys (yes, they do play with toys, all children do). How anyone could post something like this is beyond me. Fortunately there are people in this world who have compassion, empathy and do pack Christmas boxes for these children, I being one of them. I don’t know how you could live with yourself after asking others not to help poor, unfortunate children worldwide. Just when you think you have seen it all you run across someone more hateful than the one before.

  • ih8obama

    Simply put, Yes you may disagree with the aim of Christian’s to spread the message of salvation but to call Franklin Graham bigoted and hatefilled is in itself a message of hate. How can you fault the motives of Christian outreach? Perhaps you reject the teaching of Jesus, ok. But compare the life of a typical Christian to that of a Muslim or a Hindu. In every way, there is in the message of Jesus, benefits for this life and the next. Who else but Christ offers this?

  • Daniel Engling

    Emily, this is very sad. I have not had the depth of experience that some of these other commentators have but I have seen first hand the receiving end of OCC in the Bolivian mountains. The children at an orphanage there had received toy cars and socks and balls and several other “trinkets”. Let me tell you, they had nothing else they were more proud of! I went there in March and these boxes came two summers previous; they were in immaculate shape, no tears, no bending or dirtying (and trust me there was a lot of opportunity for all of that in an orphanage like this). They had immense smiles on their face when showing me their boxes, I remember one boy in particular, Edgar, who made it extremely obvious that he used these toys to fall away into his own imagination…exactly how I used to as a kid. It was amazing, and I will definitely be giving shoe boxes every year!

  • BRIDGETTE JORDAN

    I agree with much of what you said but will still be participating in Operation Christmas Child. Some things said by Franklin Graham are not things I agree with. However, his heart is in the right place and if people come to Christianity it’s great and if they don’t the gift is theirs to keep. I think the soap, toothbrushes, etc. are important. The toys don’t play a big part in many cultures simply but they can give them away if they want to. I’ve seen a lot of boxing videos on youtube and many of the toys in the boxes are not quality but it makes people feel good to do it. They can donate a goat as well if they’d like; but the goat is likely more than most spend filling boxes at the Dollar Store. The one thing I wish people would consider is that most of the children are not white and many of the dolls are.

  • BRIDGETTE JORDAN

    I agree with much of what you said but will still be participating in Operation Christmas Child. Some things said by Franklin Graham are not things I agree with. However, his heart is in the right place and if people come to Christianity it’s great and if they don’t the gift is theirs to keep. I think the soap, toothbrushes, etc. are important. The toys don’t play a big part in many cultures simply because they can’t afford them but they can give them away if they want to. I’ve seen a lot of boxing videos on youtube and many of the toys in the boxes are not quality but it makes people feel good to do it. They can donate a goat as well if they’d like; but the goat is likely more than most spend filling boxes at the Dollar Store. The one thing I wish people would consider is that most of the children are not white and many of the dolls are.

  • Luvthablues

    Nothing but a damned liberal hate piece …you’re 7 points are bullcrap …out and out lies … You are actually hurting children just to push your political agenda…You are a special class of worthless human trash!

  • susiesays

    No Emily you are the embarrassment to Christianity because someone differs with your political position. I’ve seen first hand the good that Operation Christmas Child does and you are spouting lies pure and simple to fit your own twisted ideology. You should be ashamed.

  • Gary Parks

    Emily Joy you say you have attended churches and have participated in Operation Christmas Child such as packing boxes with trinkets and things that children really don’t need maybe while you were at these churches you should have really looked into Christmas Child before you even pack a box maybe you should have tried to understand what it was truly about Operation Christmas Child is not about giving a child a box full of trinkets at Christmas time it’s about giving them a box full of love and showing the true love that comes out of the heart of followers of Jesus Christ and far and above the gift the toys and whatever they may receive this gift is about spreading the gospel that is the main purpose of Operation Christmas Child is to spread the gospel to unchurched countries in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount He commands us to go forth and spread the gospel to all the nations and that is exactly what Operation Christmas Child is doing since 1993 more than 135 million boxes have been distributed to 150 forign countries And over 4.7 million children have came to know Jesus through this program in this shoebox each child receives a booklet called the greatest gift this booklet is an overview of the Gospel of Jesus Christ explaining and showing and teaching these children his love for them each child that receives a box also has the opportunity 2 participate and A 12-week discipleship course which is a much deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when these children graduate this discipleship course each one receives a diploma a certificate and each child now has enough knowledge of Jesus Christ and the gospel to disciple others in their villages this is the most awesome Outreach for children in the gospel that I have ever seenOperation Christmas Child is overseen by Samaritan’s Purse Samaritan’s Purse is much more then just giving gifts at Christmas they are a Disaster Response Teamthey can be found in some way shape or form at any major disaster that you will see occur in the United States or out of the United States in other countries they are disaster relief and much much more they are an oUT reach that helps millions of people every year and I think before you start bashing them you should do some homework and really find out what this is all about I Praise Jesus everyday for Operation Christmas Child I have worked with them faithfully and devotedly for 10 years now if you have bad feelings about them keep it to yourself please do not twist the minds of others this is an awesome program in the name of Jesus Christ !!!!!!!!
    Thank you, Gary

  • Gary Parks

    just to add to my last comment Operation Christmas Child also offers a gift bookletand this booklet has many options that you can put your money towards buying chickens or goatsrenovating missions and hospitalsin dire need of repair freshwater and many many other options so you do not have to put your money into filling the shoe box if you feel the trinkets are worthless and useless but these gifts are very useless these gifts are going to country is very poor countries where the cost of filling that one little shoe box with the trinkets what we consider trinkets would cost a Year’s wages for their parents to fill just one box and again it’s not about the Trinkets and Gifts it’s about the gospel spreading the gospel 2 people who need the gospel who have never heard the gospelI’m not sure what Bible you’re reading but your thoughts and comments are very twisted I will pray for you thank you.

  • Julee Kunc

    I quit reading half way through because of first off I love Trump so anybody who is compared to him I already love as well and when you said the kids are receiving stuff they don’t really need and so many other things I do not feel like writing a long post so I am keeping it short. IT”S CHRISTMAS, I hope lots of people send the children in other coutries that do not have much a bunch of things they do not need or want but makes them smile as they open up a gift from somebody they think cares enough to think about them and send them something. You sound like a scrooge.

  • springsgirl

    Seems to me those bashing Mr. Graham are being a tad self-righteous…

  • Aliah Shaw

    I am 13 and just to say i am glad u have an oppinion but it sure is a liberal one. first of all a child who has no shoes or toys or anything special to call HIS or HER own (see how i used genders which God did infact create) the children dont care if the organization provided by a Graham(who was in fact a great man of God who faught against false teaching and interpretations of the Bible being twisted and contorted to what they are today) And the familys loving hands packing the boxes for the children arent trying to cover up a feeling of guilt just because they are in a different social class financially but they are trying to be true christians and helping those who need it and being generou.Next thing is if their happens to be a small Bible or theological toy in there WHO CARES!!!!! what is the big deal about that!!!
    no one going to say “Oh no i am accidently trying to show those BOYS or GIRLS some things about their heavenly father” because what if those childrn didnt have someone who loves them and needs to be shown that theirs someone who loves them and will care for them and created them. To show them they are important!

  • Kris Ludwinski

    I don’t see many recent comments on this blog so will add one here. I found this blog as I was composing a flyer for my church for our annual OCC donations. My heart is truly grieved by the stance that Ms. Joy takes in this article, and I am struck by her evident disdain and dislike of basic Christian doctrine and teachings of the Bible. I will make this post short but will offer it from my heart. I truly pray that Emily Joy will open her heart to the true Word of God, as actually written in the Bible, and not as dictated by her leftist political and social attitudes. When a Christian reads the Bible, as led by the Holy Spirit, he will see that God calls us to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all others, as stated in Matthew 28, and to love God will all our hearts, souls and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. OCC does all of these things very well and with a heart to sharing the saving grace of Jesus Christ with those who may have not heard the message of the Gospel. Our family has participated in OCC since 2001 and do it with joy every year, along with having volunteered several years at processing centers (where the boxes go after being donated and before going overseas) and have seen the contents of many hundreds of boxes. It has done our hearts good to see how much love and mercy obviously goes into the packing of those boxes. Also, along with the items in the boxes, many people pack a personalized, hand-written card or letter and a photo of their family. What a blessing for a child/family to receive! I beg of you, Ms. Joy and those who agree with you, to reexamine such ministries as OCC that simply share the love of Jesus Christ with a hurting world, and I beg of you to look at them with open eyes. May God guide you in seeing their true worth and the hearts of love that so many give to OCC. I will keep you in my prayers.

  • Jana Brian

    Thank you Michelle, I packed my first box this weekend. I lived in Sri Lanka until the age of 11 so I have seen lack and poverty. Those families would love these boxes. Lets say if we send 10 to 12 items, even if half is useful to them they’ll be happy. I didn’t put cheap stuff in my box either, Also those Hindu families will be happy that a God Name Jesus cares about them even though they are of a different religion. I agree that we shouldn’t put a winter cap- in a box that is going to a tropical country. It would have help if I knew what county my box is going to. Also poor families won’t have the money to buy these items from a local store anyway.

    • singwell

      Indeed, Jana. I was led by God to give a donation to Hindu workers building a church. I explained to them that even though I am a Christian and they are Hindus, my God and Saviour, Jesus, loves Hindus too and wanted me to bless them for their holy day (the next day). They didn’t throw the money back because it came from a Christian. They all hugged me. One said “I can buy a chicken for the feast”. That meant more to me than anything. He was poor and was expressing the joy of having something a little more than survival for once. That is what the toys represent- something a little more than survival. You don’t need them to live, but they add to your life in so many ways, and they show that someone you don’t know loves you,

  • Elle Williams

    For your seven reasons, I have 1,000 more why it does matter. NOT every person packs cheap dollar store toys. Many of us places a heavy emphasis on items like soap, band aids, pencils, pens, erasers, note books, wash clothes, and clothing items. Every box I pack yearly contains spoons, collapsible bowls, and useful items. Toys are practical and only things like jump ropes, marbles, jacks, and other classics that are universally understood. Also included are sewing kits, laundry line, and pins. Last years boxes had fishing line, hooks, sinkers, and small hammers, nails, and what not. One never knows…the hammers and screwdrivers I pack in those boxes may be put to use repair a roof. That fishing kit might be serving to help a family feed itself. Those sewing kits, laundry lines, and pins may keep their clothes off the ground. The soap may be cleaning their clothes. Those marbles, jacks, and jump ropes are universal, timeless toys and might serve not one child, but ten. Those school items may be the ONLY tools to help a child learn.
    Please feel free to expound on your opinions, but understand, I’ve spoken to many (now) adult recipients of shoe boxes that truly appreciated the items they received.

  • Elle Williams

    Most African and Asian nations aren’t concerned, or preoccupied, with gender bias. That is a fact.

    • singwell

      I work with kids in Asia. When I go, they all receive school needs, hygiene needs and clothing, but believe me, the number of kids I have had say to me that they still have the toy I gave them years ago is the most interesting thing. Giving a goat to a family is a wonderful thing, and I have provided chickens and paid for pigs, but those little toys appear to be amongst the most important things in the mind of children. They appear to represent love and something personal. Don’t disparage the toys, Emily. For us in the west who are spoilt for toys, just one little car or a McDonalds toy is something to shrug off, but not for kids who have nothing. For them, it is everything. And as for gender bias, let it go. These kids don’t know what that means. They only know what they, themselves, want. For the boys, it is cars. I could tell you story after story about cars and boys. Funny ones. Touching ones. And girls want dolls and handbags. Once again, I have seen the most incredible things when a girl gets a doll for the first time. And as for the local traders- they will survive. It’s not as if these kids are buying a lot from them anyway, really. If the kids get their school supplies and graduate and get a job, it will ultimately help all of the local traders.

  • Ruthe T. Powers

    Oct 2016 – Operation Christmas Child volunteer sacked over same-sex marriage, abortion beliefs:
    “Recently, Samaritan’s Purse asked her to sign a revised statement of faith, which included a new section asking volunteers to confirm that they do not believe in same-sex marriage or a woman’s right to have a legal abortion. “I couldn’t sign that, I didn’t sign that and I returned it to explain to them that these were not my beliefs,” […] ” the caller from Samaritan’s Purse told her she was “unsuitable” for such a position.”
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/burgeo-woman-samaritans-purse-beliefs-1.3580597

  • James M Patterson

    I am not a flaming Liberal. I am a concerned Christian who served for 5 years in Central America as a Missioner in poor communities. I do know that Franklin Graham’s organization supported political candidates who were known to favour the wealthy elites who have been guilty of savage crimes against the poor. I also know that the Christian children I saw knew that Christmas was not about getting toys, but about Jesus being born. Why would we feel good about contaminating the good news with our own sins of consumerism? There are many better avenues for helping impoverished children, such as by supporting the construction of schools, clinics, political reforms in Canada and the USA that will transform our foreign involvements into positive and life giving efforts, rather than “Government to Government” aid, especially when the governments involved may have an agenda other than the physical well-being of the women, mmen, and children involved.

  • James M Patterson

    The Bible also says: “You cannot serve God and Mammon”…. and “Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth”…. The sin of greed needs to be held up as some of which to repent. And there is also what the Bible says about “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

  • Linda B

    I agree. I have been doing these boxes since my daughter was 5 and she first brought one home from school. She is now 29. Last year I just had the foundation do the box since they have the actual approved list. Much thanks to terrorism we cannot just send what we want.
    If Oxfam or any other organization puts down other fundraiser or the like….I will NOT give a penny to them. How horrible is that what has been written. Why not say “Lets give a goat AND a shoebox”! Encourages both and not just one.

  • Nanette A Avery Solem

    This is possibly the most unkind thing I have ever heard. I support Franklin and all his ministries. If you choose not to be a part that’s fine. Taking it out on children not fine.

  • lynn

    Don’t pull a muscle patting yourself on the back. Maybe you’ve seen a few that actually meet needs but mostly they are boxes full of junk toys that don’t help anyone. Perhaps if each box were meeting a need it would be worthwhile. But as with clothes from Goodwill dumped onto East Africa all it does is harm the local economy.

    • Michelle Norsworthy

      I can’t pat myself on the back for God’s work! I just feel fortunate to have been able to witness it when many don’t have that opportunity. If you feel they are filled with junk, then I encourage you to go pack a shoe box with quality supplies to bless the life of a child 🙂

      • singwell

        Keep doing what you are doing, Michelle. I know what you are saying is true, as I go to places where kids have nothing and yet, less than an hour away, tourists are sitting in luxury hotels saying “this place must be doing well with all the money that is coming in through tourism”. If they would move themselves out of their hotels they would see that the money doesn’t get down to the villages and that the children in those villages are taunted by advertising images of all the things they can’t have- food, education, clothing and toys. Give a child like this a toy and watch their faces light up. I have had young people contact me on Facebook telling me that years ago they got a toy from me! Clearly the educational stuff I gave them helped them to progress, but it is the toy that remains in their minds.

    • Nathan Myers

      Based on your experience Lynn?
      Another bitter woman I at her!

    • singwell

      I am from Australia and we have strict guidelines on what goes into the boxes. Any junk toys are taken out and replaced with good ones.The boxes meet a need, lynn. They contain school needs (books, pencils, coloured pencils, rulers etc) clothing needs (has to be new clothing) and hygiene needs (face washers soap, toothbrushes) but also have personal things for the kids such as toys, teddies etc. I have been working in South East Asia for over 20 years and I know what a toy means to a child who has none at all- and there are many who don’t. I go to villages where there are no shops, and where families are lucky to eat one meal a day. Come with me and see what a toy means to these kids (oh yes, we supplied two schools with breakfast for their kids for the rest of the year as well).

    • Stefani

      Wow, you’re negative. I don’t know about everyone else but my boxes contain a lot of school supplies with some card games and puzzles included. Even if they’re not able to read the directions, they’re full of numbers and pictures that could be fun to play with and who doesn’t like puzzles? Pencils, crayons, markers, paper, glue.. etc. Like someone else’s said, it won’t affect the economy much if the family doesn’t have the means to buy that stuff in the first place. Plenty of those kids go without school supplies or have to share one thing between all of them.

      You must think you’re really cool for not jumping on the Christmas box wagon.

  • alicia9938

    Thank you very much for sharing your insight and experience!

  • JWinter777

    Wow, I just read again what Emily wrote. She may have some decent points but she certainly doesn’t know the whole story behind the shoeboxes. I would encourage Emily to research OCC a bit more (maybe spend time with people who work with Samaritan’s Purse) before she gives such a one-sided opinion about this ministry.

  • Kim Burrows

    I hope that you have been on a missions trip and seen the pure joy on the faces of little ones who are totally in awe of being thought of by someone else in the world! , These are children who deserve some happiness… not just things that are needed. Just for fun!
    I hope that you have seen the process of a shoebox, It is not just churches involved, it is people (not just white people) (a lot of racism here!) who just want to help someone else.
    I hope that you have spoken with the missionary who has seen the devastation in the life of a little one and seen a glimpse of happiness… It is sad! to think that 1 person can have such hatred!

    I have personally worked with people who are making a difference… one shoe box at a time! What a blessing this has been!

  • Twins Papa

    If you really would like to see a great Christmas Box ministry, there is one here:
    https://nccumc.org/outreach/project-agape/

    It partners with Project Agape (which, incidentally is helping Armenian Syrian refugees) and is being guided and directed on site by the people who receive it. In other words, it isn’t us going in and telling them what we’ll do for them, it is working together to see how we can best help. There is also a “buy an animal” type giving. And, this ministry is happening where no other group is going, because it is listed as “disputed territory”.

  • Tara McCully

    Totally agree. Well put.

  • Tara McCully

    I agree with everything you wrote. You said it much better than I could have 🙂

  • All very valid points. However, sending animals overseas is incredibly problematic also.

  • musecangel

    For alternatives: https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/humanists-doing/good-causes-and-charities/samaritans-purse/

    One is even a box-filling program that doesn’t add pamphlets.

  • David MacKenzie

    “Theologically violent bent”? Believe me I’ve heard this kind of liberal bias before, and the Church that tried to raise me on it is now in demographic free-fall. This editorial sounds almost like sour grapes. It is nothing if it isn’t, itself, prejudicial. True, Franklin Graham’s ministry doesn’t soothe the hypersensitive hand-holder. But, then again, Franklin Graham’s ministry is more socio-prophetic— more inclined to give mainstream North American culture a necessary spanking. May God continue to strengthen it, because we who increasingly act like perpetually dissatisfied spoiled brats, likely need it, whether we “like” it or not.

  • Nathan Myers

    Well at least we know how the author feels about Franklin graham…but did anyone ask her opinion?
    I didn’t realize that there was a call for the spiteful words that spewed from her clearly bitter post! Another American claiming that only kids in the US are smart enough to use toys. How … bigoted, racist of you?
    Typical arrogance!

  • Chloe

    I believe that it does more harm. It is my personal belief because no one is there to help these kids the rest of the year.

    • Michelle Norsworthy

      Actually one of the great parts of OCC is that there are people there the rest of the year 🙂 each country/region has a core team of local volunteers (residents, not just Americans) that revisit the areas throughout the year. Every kid is invited to a series of Bible studies called “the Greatest Journey” that attends to their spiritual and physical needs. Many people so not know this about OCC so help me spread the word 😉

    • singwell

      The schoolbooks, the pencils and pens, the clothing are all there for the rest of the year, and together with the toys, they are a constant reminder that someone out there loved them enough to send them. Besides, workers are often in these villages throughout the year. The shoeboxes are Christmas gifts. You got presents at Christmas. Why shouldn’t they?

    • Tracy Cooney

      That’s not true! Do your research before you post people! Most of these villages/areas are bring supported by missionaries or relief groups throughout the year!

    • Angela Marie Leino

      Even if that’s the only thing they get all year…that’s SOMETHING more than NOTHING…and I’m pretty sure they have other resources and help available than just one box and that’s it. I don’t know that side well but I think there’s a discipleship program and volunteers to help.

  • Trish Vieira

    Utter and complete nonsense.

  • momlife247

    http://coreyandkatie.org/index.php/archives/1675 This is just an on the grounds view of the shoeboxes and good advice if you should choose to participate.

  • singwell

    Well written, Michelle. I agree totally. I work with kids in South east Asia and I know what a toy means to them- it is something for them personally. And often it is the first toy they have ever had. I saw boys making their own cars out of old plastic bottles and coconut wheels. Did someone tell them that cars were for boys? For goodness sake, there are hardly any cars on the island they live on. But when I give them a REAL toy car- the smiles I get I will live on for the rest of my life. And when I remember the little girl who hugged her first doll so close and so tenderly, I still tear up. By all means, buy a goat for the family, but don’t forget that each person in that family is an individual with individual needs. And the children most of all. Toys represent the fact that someone loves them for themselves.

  • singwell

    Well written. Agree wholeheartedly. You answered the blog well.

  • Veritas Fidelis

    Dear Emily Joy,

    I could not disagree with you more. I have adopted two daughters from Kazakhstan and they both a living testimony to the joy and message they received from Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. We participated at a low level with OCC prior to adopting our daughters, however our eyes and hearts were really opened the first Christmas season we had them home. Our older daughter (age 10) absolutely lit up with joy when she saw the OCC shoeboxes in our church vestibule. She was very excited and very happy and asked in her limited english “Is this where the shoe boxes come from?”. She had received three shoe boxes in previous years, one from a church (pre orphanage) and two each year she was in the orphanage. We explained our church was one of many that provided shoe boxes and she insisted on our family providing several that year. She clearly remembered the boxes, the contents, the toys but most importantly the papers, pencils and most importantly, her most favorite item was bar soap! She was culturally Muslim, but knew about Jesus and had a trust and faith she would find her forever family. She has shared her story in our church. She was very excited to help people understand the best parts of the shoe boxes and how to back them better for the receiving children. For the next 8 years she was part of a group of young ladies that supplied over 1000 shoe boxes each year. She is now in collage doing very well. The OCC shoe boxes are not responsible for her success, but her love of God was certainly fostered and strengthened by OCC.

    I appreciate your concern, but quite frankly your analysis is not very accurate or well though out. The drawbacks are weak and not very serious. I would ask you to reconsider and use your forum to improve the program not discourage people from participating. Yes there are ways to make the programed better, chiefly with better though of what goes into the box.

  • Cindy Haag

    Red Bird MIssion provides lists of needed items. UMC supports Red Bird.

  • Carolyn

    Hi Emily

    When my children were small, I sponsored a child in Brazil. I framed and wrapped the photo I was sent and left it under our Christmas tree, addressed to all four of my children. It was an opportunity to expose my then very young children to the experience of a child living a very different life from theirs. It was eye-opening for them to realise that their new sister (their description!) was excited to receive all the supplies she needed for for school, rather than toys at Christmas. When my middle son was 16, I received an email request about Christmas gifts for kids in foster care, in my own city. Two days later, came a request to stop sending cute toys suitable for 0-8 year olds. The email said there were only 6 kids between 16 and 18 in foster care, which meant that they were still attending school – the system gives up on those that drop out early. I asked my son what I should get. He asked how many kids there were. When I told him there were only 6 in his age group, he asked me to get a gift for all of them – and told me that I didn’t need to get him anything, he would rather the foster children received gifts. I don’t know if his early experience of having a “sister” in Brazil contributed to his compassion, but I suspect it did. I agree whole heartedly that generosity means actually giving up something – the widow’s mite, rather than the pharisee’s spare change.

  • Chris Smith

    God Bless America that you are able to speak openly of your personal opinions. This would not be possible in many countries in the world right now. I am praying that you will receive clarity and wisdom concerning the “facts” you are using and the judgement you heap upon Mr. Graham. I will not list the many teachings of God and Jesus concerning judging others. The only true judge is God and we will all stand before Him. If you don’t like what OCC does you don’t have to participate. You want to attack true injustice as Jesus did to the money changers in the temple? Pray and seek God of where your true calling is as I wonder if the enemy of this world is trying to lead you astray. Holy Spirit, please speak to your precious daughter of Your direction you have purposed her for. In Jesus Name.

  • browneyedgirly

    Who knew people would get so heated over OCC? There is so much more that can or should be done. Yay us for sending useless trinkets so we can feel better about ourselves! I can’t stand Graham either. Good for you, Emily. Great post.

  • browneyedgirly

    He’d do a heck of a lot more if he only took a fraction of his $880K salary… #justsayin

  • Laura

    Emily…you say his feeds are a” never-ending font of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic and otherwise bigoted vitriol. Most of what he has to say is so nonsensically hateful it doesn’t bear repeating.” How so? Can you list here the comments that support this. You say it doesn’t bear repeating because there is nothing to repeat. It is amazing that TRUTH is now the new hate speech. You can love the sinner and recognize the sin…we all are sinners and you are showing NO love towards someone if you let them blindly fall in a ditch….. In addition he has not officially endorsed anyone…more falsehood on your part. I am sure I will be deemed hateful in your eyes. That is okay. I am speaking the truth…doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I am a sinner too ..but I also know that I do sin. Please turn back to sound doctrine.. Blessings….

  • Irene Gonzalez

    Operation blessing is a wonderful cause. As we prepare to send out 100 shoe boxes from our church, we are confident that children will be blessed.
    We have received many testimonials of the good that is accomplished worldwide/ These boxes, say, “Jesus Loves you.” That is all we care about.
    If a progressive liberal is interpreting this gift through a negative, disturbed, viewpoint where everything is suspicious and has an selfish agenda. That person will never see anything good in anything. Franklin Graham is a man of faith, That is how Christian churches must operate. By faith, in the Love of a Redeeming Savior we choose to be participants of the Blessing of our Lord on many thousands of children around the world. The liberal progressive world is jaded by defiance toward God and His Word. It is not the word of Franklin Graham it is the Word of All Mighty God. His Word is the ultimate authority for believers in Christ Jesus. We believe His Word, we agree with His Word and we live by is Word.
    Pastor Irene

  • Irene Gonzalez

    Thank you for sharing. God bless you richly.

  • Evangeline Rose

    That was beautifuly said. I support a child in Uganda since he was eight years old and he comes form the slums. He is now 20 and this white family me that is…has supported him and he is now in the University. We share a deep bond and recently he told me that a simple card I sent that had sound was so thrilling to him he took back to his shaty town and showed all the children. So I completely disagree with EJ. Im so sadden by her thoughts. Emily is lacking…joy she seems very judgemental and needs to watch the videos of the children hugging their new socks. Lives have been change and will contiune to be and God is so please becasue HE siad Matthew 25:37Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’
    40And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”
    So GIVE GIVE GIVE. BLESS THE HEART OF JESUS. I’m currently working on five Christmas love boxes and I pray over them. One year I got a letter back and the child was sooooooooooooooooooo thankful. It shows them God has not forgotten them. Yes we all could do more but it useless to judge people who are doing a good work. So sad she is blind and bitter.

  • Evangeline Rose

    Emily they have inspired, encourged over 100 million children. Do you realize the good that has flowed out of the hearts of people for the Lord Jesus. This is for the LORD Jesus how are you missing this. How can you judge people like this. You clearly need to remove the log in your own eye. I will pray for you dearest.

  • BillyT

    The Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) is a faith based organization founded in 1983 and run by 15 churches. In its early days, farmers could deliver wheat and designate it to be shipped overseas where it was distributed in countries with major food security issues. Administration costs are less than 3%. Fundraising costs are less than 3%. In addition, our federal government matches donations to the tune of 4 to 1 (up to $25 million annually).
    Some years ago, there was a recognition that the grain being shipped overseas was negatively affecting the local food markets (much like Emily indicated happens when Western goods are sent overseas in shoeboxes). The delivery model of the CFGB has now been changed and grain is now converted to cash which is then used to purchase food locally in the targeted countries. This has the twofold effect of alleviating hunger and supporting local markets.

    I see this as a much better model of helping, much like the buying goats/chickens programs that are hitting North American mailboxes at about this time of the year. In terms of cost effectiveness, you can’t beat cash donations that are then used directly in country. The overhead costs of shipping and distributing shoeboxes aren’t insignificant. And as the writer indicates, Franklin Graham’s obscene salary and questionable politics should be enough to direct people to other, less controversial organizations.

    When I consider how best to donate to charity, I spend some time researching their administrative and fundraising costs. Here in Canada we can see those numbers on the Canada Revenue Agency charity website (just search on the charity’s name) and in the US I believe the website of Charity Navigator provides similar data.

  • Tracy Cooney

    Blah blah blah! Sounds like someone else that really doesn’t like the Graham family! Your reasons for not liking OCC are ridiculous down to your criticism of the shoeboxes themselves. Gimme a break! I am so tired of everything in this world being picked apart. Bottom line: it is an act of giving, an act of love, and a great experience for children in the USA to look past their own lives and care about others. I’ve seen first hand the looks on children’s faces the moment they open their box. Heard with my own ears the squeal of delight as they look at each item inside. They don’t know how to play with a toy? It hurts the local economy? Really? Once a year, receiving one box with a couple of toys?!?!? Once again, gimme a break!! Relying on white people? Isn’t it a bit racist to assume that only white people are in the position to donate to OCC? Most ridiculous article I’ve read in a very long time! I hope you didn’t waste too much of your time writing it! Shame on you! Please save your wreckless judgement. You should know better!

  • Tracy Cooney

    You really need to let your obvious hate of Franklin Graham go. I know nothing about the guy but your public judgement and defamation of the man makes me very uncomfortable!

    • Cris B

      Franklin Graham is an awesome man of God who does good all over the world. He follows Jesus & the Bible. My guess is Emily Joy’s joy has been squeezed out of her by the enemy. It’s very sad

  • Stacie Buckley Pluff

    I have been committed to Operation Christmas Child for a long time but I too was disgusted this year by Franklin Graham’s picture of his elderly father on Billy’s birthday with Trump and his wife, Sarah Palin, and various other Republicans that do nothing but espouse hatred toward “the least of these” (and I’m not including Greta van Susteren here). Who you may support for President should be a private thing and separate from your charitable organization and you sure shouldn’t be propping your elderly father up with them to try to get votes for Donald Trump. I lost a whole lot of respect for him and then work that his organizations have done through the years. Lets not forget that he started World Medical Mission too. I wonder what our Christian friends in Syria and other war torn countries think about his political grandstanding? I wonder how our people of color, including those in my church, would feel? I’ll still support Operation Christmas Child because I feel its the right thing to do and some of the other work that Samaritan’s Purse has done with disaster relief is admirable but I will never see him the same way again. I’ll choose to support the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief fund, or the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, or some other Christian Relief organization locally that has more transparency in where my money is going.

  • Sue77

    Emily Joy, you do realize that you can go straight to the Bible to see that Franklin Graham’s platform is Biblical?

  • Angela Marie Leino

    If you don’t want to support OCC that’s fine, not everyone needs to have the same opinions. However it’s really hurtful and highly unnecessary for you to tell everyone NOT to do it, or suggest that they don’t do it.

    I’ve heard SO many more positive stories than your negative ones. A kid who needed a pair of shoes and that’s what he got, or someone who needed a shirt and they got it the list goes on. I feel it’s very God ordained and a blessing to the kids. The kids don’t know who Franklin Graham is or if he’s pro trump, nor do they care. I’m not pro trump but I’m still going to support OCC. OCC does more good than harm and you should do more research before posting articles like this. The kids get a gift and love and hope and joy when they normally wouldn’t and they’re hearing about Christ. Maybe it’s not the way you would want them to know about Christ, or everything they should know about Christ but at least they learn about him and know He exists.

    Again it’s fine to have an opinion but that doesn’t mean you need to share it, and I realize that could go right back to me and I could easily not post this but it hurts that you would try to prevent people from donating to something that does good. Why don’t you spend more time and effort trying to stop something bad like sex trafficking or abuse, porn, etc. Something that everyone (should) agree is harmful.

    Donating love and time and money and items to those in need is not a bad thing. I pray you will consider taking this down.

  • Angela Marie Leino

    Kids are still getting shoe boxes and school supplies and hygeine items, and joy!! They don’t know or care who Franklin Graham is!!

  • Tracy Cooney

    Wrong again and again Emily Joy!!!!!!!!

  • joe scot

    Sounds like it is time to write a “7 Reasons to Ignore Emily Joy” article.

  • Mel

    You are an idiot. Boys and girls are different whether you like it or not. The races have different features whether you like it or not. We are not all the same, God made us unique. The shoe boxes will in no way impact the local economy of a town. And Jesus is neither American nor white, He is Hebrew, (or Israeli , whichever makes you happy) . Perhaps you should meet Him for yourself. Merry Christmas.

  • Shinetrue

    I see there are a lot of comments here. I also understand some of your well thought out points. And I probably would have been swayed by them when I was younger. However, having volunteered in different organizations the past 25 years I have found that there is probably never going to be a charity or organization that is perfect since they all are run by imperfect people. My time on a staff-parish relations committee of a church was very eye-opening for me. We will continue to support this ministry because it gives my children something tangible to do as compared to seeing me fill out a form online. And Samaritan’s Purse has been here in the Hilton Head and Bluffton SC area since Hurricane Matthew. While many of us are back in our homes, back to work and school – they are here weeks later, staying in a local church and coordinating volunteer efforts. Clearing debris and trees off of people’s properties that would otherwise not be able to afford it. They have been a huge blessing to many people here.

  • Roni

    I surely hope there isn’t a single person out there who stopped packing boxes or volunteering for Operation Christmas Child based on one person’s limited observations. Try volunteering or take a tour at a packing facility or watch a video of one of the many people touched by receiving a gift. Some families whose child receives a shoebox wrapped in gift wrap are so grateful, they have the wrapping paper preserved in their livingroom as a reminder of the gesture. It’s not about the toy that they don’t know what to do with. It’s about the love and kindness of a perfect stranger who cares enough to think of them.

  • Annie

    The paragraph about Graham hating refugees is ridiculous. His organization was on the forefront last year with hundreds of volunteers going to Greece and other countries where they could offer first hand help to the refugees. I remember watching a very detailed account of their work. In fact, Samaritan’s purse is ALWAYS on the forefront whenever emergency relief is needed. They are truly international first responders and they clearly aren’t sitting around worrying about what religion the people who need help belong to.

    I’ve also heard accounts from missionaries who talked about how much the kids enjoy receiving shoe boxes and how appreciated they were. Maybe it does vary from place to place, but the idea that all of the gifts are detrimental just isn’t true.

  • Agw

    I have received few of these boxes myself and I do not think that sending these boxes is a bad idea! I’m from Latvia and this northern european country Isn’t too poor as you may think if we are receiving these boxes but in rural areas we do have children who don’t really get a lot of gifts in christmas. I’m not from poor family but we lived in a village, in rural region and that’s why we received them and for me this box was always just a surprise gift (it didn’t always come on christmas) I didn’t think that I would ever travel to USA so receiving something that was from there and getting toys that maybe american children played with as well felt amazing!
    I also don’t agree with you about the gender rules! None of the girls in my class wanted to receive boys toy and boys wouldn’t be happy to receive a doll as well! I remember when I got a car in my box so I traded it with a boy who got play dough. Also our country is not stressed about the gender rules, but we do beleive that there is a difference between a men and a woman. And talking about the christian magazines- yes, we did get them but no one is pressured to read them! My family is not religious so we just Didn’t read them!
    In conclusion I thing that these boxes are good and I encurage americans to continue making them!

  • Ginger Dawn Farris

    Some people just want to rip apart and analyze the good intentions of other Christians. You’re a sad, hateful person, Emily. And you need prayer desperately!

    • Ginger Dawn Farris

      …and the series of hoops you have set up that must be jumped through in order to post a comment is tiring and intended to discourage the opinions of others who might disagree with you, I’m sure. And then you’re asked to follow 3 channels “in order to begin”, by disqus? Ridiculous!

  • Jessica Meschino

    I get. The he idea of loss of support of local stores (toy stores and such). But how does a shoe box going to a child of a poor family (to the extreme, beyond what North Americans and other first world countries exp rience as poor) where th family can’t even properly feed/ cloth/ house their children, let alone pay for school effect that local store. It’s unlikely that that family would be buying anything gift related (unless they are necessities, and then not alwaly even that) since they likely can’t even afford to save up a meter amount if money for that sort of stuff. I do agree with a lot of what you said. A great idea would to have a selection list based on th following: approx age, gender and country of destination. Then three should be a list of what is appropriate to pack in such a box, keeping in mind things such as climate, appropriateness of toys (age, gender and country wise) and what greatest needs are for children in destination countries as well as a list of no nos.

  • Cris B

    Erica Cavazos Alcala, you said you’re a baby Christian, well you’re maturing quickly 🙂 this was very well said & you have an awesome Christ like ❤️You also pointed out how the shoeboxe can minister to the heart of the giver, so true. As a Christian you said you learned not to judge or it was a waste, you are so right. It’s wrong unless we do it with love and for their good. Fact is Franklin Graham is a Christian and follows the Bible’s teachings from Jesus’s words. emily can spend her money elsewhere. Good thoughts Erica.

  • Lesley Richards Barbee

    What a wicked little thing to write! If you don’t want to participate because you clearly don’t care for Franklin Graham than don’t but don’t discourage others that have. Your liberal commentary isn’t necessary.

  • Jolly Visits

    Emily, thank you for this article. I run an operation called JollyVisits, and we represent Santa. Not the “mall Santa”, but Santa – who is a one-man operation and who is himself conducting a shoebox Gift Drive – right in the United States, partnering with schools and community-aid organizations that serve underprivileged children. There is NO religious agenda; Santa is not a religious figure and does not represent any organization other than his own. There is no fee to participate in the Gift Drive, no requirements to receive a gift and no “minimum donation” business for personal appearances – Santa isn’t in this to make a profit.

    Would you please consider telling your readers about our humble little blog where we outline the Gift Drive?

    http://www.jollyvisits.blogspot.com

    http://www.facebook.com/JollyVisits

    Thank you!

  • Evangeline Rose
  • Lindsay Roberts

    If the example of a man is enough to turn you from God, I would daresay you were never His to begin with. Peoples issue with Franklin Graham is rooted in their entitlement. Sorry, but homosexuality is wrong. Transgender is wrong. Sexual immorality is wrong. Franklin Graham speaks out against these issues because he is speaking for the Gospel. Praise God for that.

  • Margo

    You’re kidding. This is your “cause”… slamming Operation Christmas Child. Are you nuts? Good grief.

  • Janine Burke

    I love participating in Operation Christmas Child. I am not big into all the tree and santa junk, but I think celebrating the birth of the MOST compassionate Person to have ever walked the earth is pretty admirable, especially when His message is all about LOVE. I have watched the videos of children opening their boxes, many who have never held a crayon in their hands, watching the joy and seeing the surprise of kindness given from a faraway land. The Graham ministries are not limited to that most important act of Evangelism, but also provide many needful things to the forgotten and impoverished people around the world. For example, they actually dug out a 5 mile irrigation canal to help feed 300 families in 3 different villages in Cambodia. Let’s not forget how they packed their DC8 with food and supplies when Haiti was suffering. They also provide food, medicine, water, in other desperate areas and find ways to teach and manage resources to people who would perish without it. I am enjoying gathering my gift boxes today. I will include toothbrushes, soap, player flutes, and art supplies, along with a very carefully selected “toy”. I am so thankful I can celebrate the birth of My Savior who commands His followers to go forth with the Gospel. I am thankful children from around the world can learn about Him. What a great message for all to hear! Best wishes to you this holiday season! <3

    Romans 9:

    8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

    9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe
    in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
    saved.

    10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

    12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

    13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  • Jaci Frattare

    I am curious what other organizations you recommend other than Badala? I love what they do and would like to hear of more. Thanks!

  • Joanne Linczak Penkalski

    Wow, just wow on this one. While the contents of shoeboxes may vary, they most certainly are not filled with toys. You are not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination so please don’t call yourself one. Donald Trump has certainly created a rift in the Christian community, but this is just a leftist political rant and a plug for your friend’s business. To take from children who look forward to these things just so you can preach your liberal propaganda is pathetic.

  • Sandra Baker

    God didn’t create the problems in our world. Man in his sin created them. Man who listens to the voice of the enemy, the evil one, Satan. God is good and with that being said, why would He create evil? God kicked Satan out of heaven and he roams the earth to and fro seeking whom he may devour. That mean he only devours those who give him permission, who submit to him. Everyone has trials and temptations and are put to a test daily. Blessed is the man that endures temptation. James 1:17 says: Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, neither shadow of turning.

  • Sandra Baker

    I am so sad Emily Joy that you are upset with Franklin Graham for speaking the truth and sharing the gospel of the newborn King through a shoe box gift. I read your entire article on why we should not support Franklin and his agenda and I am not going to try to justify my participation in this ministry/propaganda or any other. Believe me, Franklin does not cause the sun to rise or shine and neither do you or I. Most ministry in foreign countries requires and certain amount of propaganda, politics and spiritual warfare in order to move forward. OCC is no different. And what about your poem… Love the sinner and hate the sin? Is giving a child a gift in a box a sin? Will you still love me if I choose to do so?

  • Jaime Lord

    This entire article is ridiculous. Sounds to me like a rebellious teenager; bitter, cynical, and arrogant. Do you think any organization has nothing but culturally studied individuals that are economically enlightened on a global scale. I remember being a know-it-all 13 year old refusing to go to church or wear pink because I was finding myself. The only thing I agree with that I believe is insinuated here is that ignorance is counterproductive. However, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with this charity. If you’re a cynical person, you can find wrong with anything.

  • Katie concha

    I think who ever wrote 7 reasons not to participate in operation Christmas child,sounds like and angry ,unhappy person,who likes to turn something nice into something ugly..I can’t handle it when people always try an look to make trouble,she sounds like one of those black lives matter people…The only thing I can say is she probably needs prayer,and a whole lot of Jesus…We need to pray that you find your softer side,The best thing in this world is having Jesus by your side,and in your heart,He is King Of Kings and Lord of Lords,who even knows or cares if he is white,He is The Son Of God,and Our Creator..He is Humble and Honorable and He is The price of peace,This world needs Him,the problem is so many people forget Him until their world falls apart,and then He is the first they call on and ya know what He is always there….There is noone else like Him,He is Glorious and Majestic and filled with love and He is looking to transform hearts change lives ,heal bodies ,heal families ,restore relationships,He has perfect love and perfect peace,and He can’t be bought for a price,because He is free…..Let’s give Him all The Glory…..I love You and adore You Jesus…..My heart and life is yours….Please create in me a clean heart so I can be more like you Lord……I thank You Lord for all things,Your Grace is sufficient for us……WeLove You……..We Praise Your Name…JESUS………….

  • lightperson

    No matter what is done to help people, someone who is a whole lot more righteous will find a way to tear it, and those who do it, down. I would suggest to Emily that you find a way to send these children all something that will make them equally as happy as the shoe boxes, before you try to get people to stop giving. The world needs fewer self-righteous people and more people who make a difference.

  • Karen Mack

    Here it is, nearly Christmas again, and I discovered this blog by looking for information for my shoe boxes. I read every detail of your concern. I have carefully considered, packed, re-packed, and prayed over my shoe boxes for many years. I begin, always, with school supplies, socks, slide-on sandals (due to potential size issues & their use to some degree regardless of climate). Toothpaste & brushes, chapstick with spf, wide-tooth combs, sunglasses, soft washcloths, soap wrapped in foil, balls, compact mirrors, a little candy, flashlights or lanterns & batteries, paracord, small tools, soft animals, dolls (of all races), small soft blankets, on and on. I have received thank-you letters from many countries…from kids in orphanages to parents of kids in remote villages whose letter took months to arrive. I received a letter from two brothers who wished for my family to adopt their little sister from an orphanage, thanking us profusely for the gifts delivered to them. Sadly, after great investigation, we found that this would not be possible, due to the country’s restrictions. We returned a letter to them with great sadness, but with the assurance that someone cared…WE cared, and we would pray for them every day. Letters came telling us that, for the first time, our recipients had their own toothbrush, washcloth, plastic cup. One man wrote that his children had never received gifts before, and he spoke of how he cried, and searched for a way to contact us until he was able to mail a letter. He did not become dependent on America because his children each received some love in a box. He just said he was so glad that someone cared.

    Although I do not share all of Mr. Graham’s views, he is, by no means, the monster that you describe. He is a man who, based upon his deep beliefs, exercises his right to free speech, just as you do. The fact that you disagree with one another is simply a human condition. Each of you strongly expresses opinions which you believe to be absolutely true. That is why America is wonderful. You each have that option. When we speak of inclusiveness, however, if we are to do so in its purest form, we must choose to “include” individuals who think differently…i.e., Franklin Graham. To disagree with him and prefer another venture is perfectly fine. You prefer that he not speak out regarding restroom restrictions, his belief in hell, and the like. He prefers that you not publicly villainize him, in much the same way. I believe that it is possible for both mindsets to produce great humanitarian work, and to exhibit love and grace toward one another even when in disagreement. Perhaps you can show him the way…

    My family is dedicated to providing real, practical public service, both in and out of the US. Much of our work is personal, with local families, exchange students, etc. I live near Charlotte, NC, where Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion operate home offices, and I can literally see the massive efforts that are underway there. Thousands of temporary home structures immediately sent within the US and to other countries after natural disasters, prepared before a storm ever hits. These are often the only shelter provided to victims, and they are a lifeline. Mosquito nets, water systems, medical care, food, personal care kits, education, massive teams of relief workers sent out to US locations to clear debris & rebuild homes after disasters occur. I have watched the Billy Graham association teams for years, and yes, they are well-oiled machines….reaching thousands and thousands of hurting people. If they choose to say that Jesus loves them & hell is real while they provide life-sustaining aid, I doubt that the recipients mind at that moment, and they are free to choose the life they wish to lead. I support many worthwhile organizations, and this is one of them. May God grant you love and peace this Christmas and always.

  • Tval

    It appears that most of my points have already been made, but I will add one thought: To quote Inigo Montoya, in regard to “Christianity”: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means…”

  • Jenny Nolan

    In 2006, I had the opportunity to pass out OCC boxes at an orphanage in a rural village in Ukraine. I spent a month with these children prior to passing out the shoe boxes. These kids ate watered down potato soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their toilets consisted of holes in the ground outside, and rats would run around while you were squatting. They wore rags. They shared beds, clothing, shoes, soap, and even underwear. They had *literally* nothing of their own. The kids were so malnourished that 16 year old boys looked like 10 year olds.

    Passing out the OCC boxes was incredibly humbling and a wonderful experience that I will never forget. I watched the eyes of these children light up as they found stuffed animals, toothbrushes, soap, matchbox cars, etc. in their boxes. These kids now had a shoebox full of items that was all theirs. They were so happy.

    Please don’t berate an organization and a ministry that you obviously know so little about.

    I support Operation Christmas Child 100%. They are doing wonderful things in the lives of children around the world.

  • Hannah

    Thank you for writing this!! I am part of a fair trade organization called Trades of Hope where I market and sell fair trade products made by women in 16 different countries. Our model is different though, because we focus heavily on EDUCATION above anything else. Educating people on why charity isn’t always the right option, how it can actually be very detrimental, and offering them fair trade items to purchase so that they can support local economies in third world countries. We have seen entire slums turn into thriving villages, just because of this work. That’s NOTHING a stupid box full of junk could ever do!

    My website: http://www.mytradesofhope.com/hannahtroyer

  • Mary Kemper-Biemer

    Emily, I really don’t get you. I am guessing you belong to a social gospel church? There are churches that no longer teach the need for repentance from sin and the need to be born again. That is the only gospel. A need force a radical transformation of the heart. If I am wrong and you truly are born again then you are sinning by slandering a brother in Christian and servant of Jesus Christ. There is only one body of Christ. How dare you.

  • Mary Kemper-Biemer

    And I am a proud voter for Donald Trump.

  • Mary Kemper-Biemer

    Shame on you Emily.

  • Mary Kemper-Biemer

    Slander is a sin. You need to repent Emily. You are in no position to be a public representative fir Christ. You are only storing up God’s wrath or heavy chastisement on yourself.

  • Barbara Barbarita Valdes

    From someone who comes from a poor background where I lacked of essentials, such as soap, toothpaste, brush, etc. I see Operation as the opportunity to help others. I do not focus on the religion but on the materials I sent and how much better even if its just for a little while it makes this kids in needs life. Its about focusing on the positive side. Every organization has a good and bad side. I rather see the good side though. To bad for others that let people who gotten ypset to this organization stop them to help other kids in need. Its all about choices. I rathet make positive and constructive choices.

  • JAn

    So well said! So tired that the liberal conservatives think that they are the only ones who have “the correct Truth”. Instead of trying to work together, the church is just becoming divisive. Where is the light?

  • JAn

    And that’s the point. How does someone else know what God is telling YOU to do?? It’s each person’s relationship.