Synod 2017 denied a request from Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse) to be included on the Christian Reformed Church’s list of accredited agencies for church offerings.
The organization had been recommended by the CRC Board of Trustees to synod for approval. However, missions and relief work staff later communicated that Operation Christmas Child’s approach is “not consistent with the approach followed by the CRCNA agencies.”
Operation Christmas Child has distributed about 150 million shoeboxes filled with small toys and other items to children in over 160 countries since it began in 1993. The organization also leads children receiving gifts in a 12-week gospel discipleship program.
Doug Aldrink, Classis Wisconsin, spoke in favor of Operation Christmas Child. “Samaritan’s Purse is making a valiant attempt in joining the addressing of needs with gospel proclamation.”
But Debra Mead, Classis Holland, said she felt torn. She initiated collection of Operation Christmas Child boxes at her church and faithfully packed the boxes for many years, she said. But recently during her work on a denominational committee, she was “convicted that [the CRC agencies’] approach is more beneficial because of their ongoing relationship with the churches.”
“There is so much wrong with the idea that we as North Americans should be distributing gifts in boxes to other countries,” said Randy Kroll, Classis Lake Superior. “It seems paternalistic, costly, and not very effective in terms of ministry.”
José Rayas, Classis Arizona, said he has experience in community development work.“For somebody to come in and throw things at the children robs the dignity of the family, of the fathers in being able to provide for their families.”
Synod 2017 is meeting at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., from June 9-15. For continuous coverage, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases and the webcast, please visit crcna.org. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.