Breanna Brink, Staff Writer
Christmas is a uplifting time of year, presenting the excited and kind nature of humanity, while also bringing those in need to the forefront. The season puts most people into a giving mood, but with the entire world seemingly caught up in giving to their families and friends, many forget the other ways to help those in need this Christmas season. One of these ways is through Samaritan’s Purse, and is both economical and impactful. Many of those who have grown up with an Abrahamic religious background have likely heard of this mission group. Quoted directly from the website, “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Whether those who participate have religious intent or not, the most well-known service is the Christmas Shoe Boxes, Christmas gifts and celebration sent to those in need around the world.
Samaritan’s Purse is known for doing several forms of ministry, which is listed on their website, such as “a disaster assistance response team (DART) on the ground to assist increasingly anguished Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh.” They are also helping Vietnam by sending relief to Da Nang, “the plane is stocked with heavy-duty shelter tarp and cooking kits—enough supplies to help 10,000 households in the country’s south-central coastal region. There are also hygiene kits, blankets, mosquito nets, and jerry cans in varying amounts. Distributions are scheduled to begin on Sunday, Nov. 26.” Samaritan’s purse also helps those within our own country, having devoted themselves to rebuilding Hurricane Harvey victim’s homes in the retirement residential areas.
The biggest service Samaritan’s Purse is known for is its annual collection of toy-and-treat-filled shoeboxes, which have become an easy way to give back to those in need during Christmas season. This service helps those around the world who don’t have access to luxury items during the holiday season. The website describes the practice as packing specially labeled shoeboxes for children to bless children, which are then delivered all over the world. Parents often use the practice to teach their children about giving, and this is an effective way of blessing those around the world. Often, churches and schools collect boxes from different pickup zones, and thousands of volunteers annually inspect the prepared shoeboxes for international shipping. As a personal practice, the workers also spend a few minutes to pray over the package groups before they are sent to children to ensure safe travel and to help each child individually. This has been a tradition since the earliest days of Samaritan Purses’ founding.
“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Bob Pierce wrote these now-famous words in his Bible after visiting suffering children on the Korean island of Koje-do. His biography states that this “impassioned prayer is what guided him as he founded and led the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse in 1970.” His new-found mission for this organization was “to meet emergency needs in crisis areas through existing evangelical mission agencies and national churches.” His experiences began to shape the way this future organization would function, “while on a university lecturing circuit in China, he stumbled across some courageous women who were living among lepers and orphans, sacrificing everything to share the love of Jesus Christ. Through their selfless love, God gave Pierce a vision for ministry. He dedicated himself to finding and supporting other such Christians who were caring for the poor and suffering in the distant corners of the world.”
If you are curious about what is appropriate to pack for a shoebox, the Samaritan’s Purse website has detailed instructions. Often people write personalized notes to the child receiving their box, and if you leave your address it is not uncommon to hear back from them. It is good to know that there are institutions designed to bring the love and joy of the Christmas season to those all around the world, but especially to those who are in need of basic comfort items and care.