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My friend Matt just reminded me of something I wish I’d mentioned sooner.

Back in 1993 I received some promotional material from Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization I supported, occ_shoeboxlabelsabout a new ministry they were beginning.  It was a stunningly simple but beautiful concept–all you had to do was fill a shoe box with toys and personal effects for a needy child.  Samaritan’s Purse would then collect the boxes, insert a booklet explaining the gospel, and distribute them in the name of Christ.  It was called Operation Christmas Child.  I was instantly hooked on the idea.

It would be a mistake to think that’s all there is to Samaritan’s Purse, though:

Our emergency relief programs provide desperately needed assistance to victims of natural disaster, war, disease, and famine. As we offer food, water, and temporary shelter, we meet critical needs and give people a chance to rebuild their lives.

Our community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

We impact the lives of vulnerable children through educational, feeding, clothing, and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotten.

We provide first-class treatment in the Name of the Great Physician through our medical projects, as well as supplying mission hospitals with much needed equipment and supplies.

As our teams work in crisis areas of the world, people often ask, “Why did you come?” The answer is always the same: “We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our ministry is all about Jesus—first, last, and always. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5, NIV).

Samaritan’s Purse (now led by Franklin Graham) was founded in  1970 by Bob Pierce.  After seeing the suffering of some children in Korea, he wrote in his Bible, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

Bob Pierce’s prayer (and life) are worth imitating.  Listen to Jesus’ sobering words in Matthew 25:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Day of Judgment will reveal which of those two groups we belong to.

If you’d like to participate in OCC this year, it’s not too late.  National Collection Week is November 17-24 in the United States.  You can find more information on the website.

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”