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Evangelising Booklet

The booklet handed out to the children during the shoebox distribution of "Operation Christmas Child"


A child being handed the evangelising booklet with his shoebox.
Note Samaritan's Purse have often replied to criticism about religious literature being used by saying that they no longer put religious literature inside the shoeboxes. Yes this is true, they now put it on top of the shoeboxes.  


The whole booklet is available here.

The booklet is not a "simple booklet of Bible stories" but is designed specifically for converting young children into Christians and comes complete with a "sinner's prayer" of conversion and a pledge card. See for yourself.

Background
It was something of a struggle to get hold of this booklet. After reading about it in the Press, I wrote to the UK office of Samaritan's Purse. In reply they gave me 4 photocopied pages - see here. It was unclear from their letter whether this was the whole of the booklet. It looked like there are major parts of the story missing, so I guessed this was not all. The first attempt to obtain the original booklet were frustrating as despite being told by Samaritan's Purse that the booklet will be available in Christian bookshops the first Christian bookshop asked said they did not sell anything by the publisher "WorldServe Ministries" since they consider them to be a (quote) "fringe group."
A websearch eventually found the whole booklet online available from the website of "WorldServe Ministries." This is how they described it at the time on their website:

Christian Publishing Phenomenon

Its colorful animation style illustrations and unique presentation of the Gospel have made The Most Important Story Ever Told extremely popular among children and adults, and gives it an international appeal that reaches across cultural lines. More importantly God has used this little book to not only introduce His son, Jesus Christ, to tens of millions of children and adults – but to help bring millions of them to an understanding of and personal relationship with Christ as their Savior.

Because of its effectiveness, The Most Important Story Ever Told has also been used by numerous well-known Christian ministries, including:

    Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
    Child Evangelism Fellowship
    Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)/Operation Blessing
    Goad International
    Operation Mobilization
    Luis Palau Evangelistic Association
    Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child
    … and numerous churches for outreach activities and missions trips.

The details of the booklet are (as given by the UK Samaritan's Purse office):
"The Greatest Gift of All" ISBN: 1 896658 32 6 Published by "WorldServe Ministries"
However the "WorldServe Ministries" website call the booklet "The most Important Story Ever Told."


As can be seen by comparing the photocopies I was sent and the full version - this is the same thing. Subsequently I wrote to the head office of Samaritan's Purse for clarification.

They answered:

Greetings from Samaritan' Purse and Operation Christmas Child.  We appreciate your support and participation in this special project. 

The booklet you are inquiring about is called "The Greatest Gift of All." This literature is not inserted into the boxes. The booklet is offered to the children at the time of distribution and has been translated into over 100 languages. The primary function of this literature is to provide the National Leadership Team members in each country with a follow-up tool for evangelism. You may obtain a copy through:

WorldServe Ministries
5795 Genesis Court
Frisco, Texas 75034
(888) 254-8005.
Should you have further questions or need additional assistance, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Jessica Tabler
Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan's Purse
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
(828)262-1980 ext. 1493
jtabler@samaritan.org
www.samaritan.org


Notice that in the letter above it is stated that the booklet is a "tool for evangelism" and there is "follow-up" evangelism after the shoebox distribution. I next asked the headquarters of Samaritan’s Purse for confirmation that the leaflet on the WorldServe Ministries website (“Most Important Story Ever Told”) was the same as the one titled “The Greatest Gift Of All” that is stated as being handed out to children alongside the shoebox distribution.

Under the impression that I was a supporter Operation Christmas Child they replied:


Greetings from Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

You are correct in your assumption that "The Most Important Story Ever Told" and "The Greatest Gift Of All" are basically one in the same.  Samaritan's Purse has adopted this version for distribution with each shoebox gift as a tool for evangelism.  Should you need additional assistance, please let us know.  It is because of caring people like you that this project is so successful.  Have a blessed day!

Sincerely,

Jessica Tabler
Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan's Purse
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
(828)262-1980 ext. 1493
jtabler@samaritan.org
www.samaritan.org

I was also told by John Bree, the UK manager of OCC, that the booklet “The Greatest Gift Of All” is "the only literature offered to the children by our partners when the boxes are given out to the children." However contrast that with the following from an independent letter from Samaritan's Purse to an evangelical supporter of OCC concerned that they were not fulfilling their evangelising mission:

"Please be assured that the commitment of Samaritan's Purse to evangelism is as strong as ever.

Christian literature is not banned from Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in the United Kingdom or any other sending country. However, there is a difference in the way the boxes are processed in the U.K. for overseas shipment. The U.K. program removes all religious items (Christian as well as other religions) and forwards any Christian literature to our National Leadership Teams working in countries where shoebox gifts are distributed, so the Christian literature can be used with children through the local church.

Samaritan's Purse staff in the U.K. is dedicated, as we all are, to ensuring that Christian literature given by donors is used in effective ministry outreach to children through Operation Christmas Child.

The Gospel is also presented locally as part of the distribution of the gifts, and wherever possible, children are offered a Gospel storybook written in their own language called The Greatest Gift of All. Many children are also invited to enroll in a 10-lesson follow-up Bible study program, and upon completion receive a New Testament as a graduation gift.

In the United States, Christian literature remains inside the shoebox gifts given by donors. We are developing and implementing standard operating procedures to ensure that this practice is followed in the U.K. and other sending countries."

Sincerely,
Donor Ministries
Samaritan's Purse
PO Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
828-262-1980
www.samaritanspurse.org

[From a letter from Samaritan's Purse to a concerned supporter of OCC - see http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/archives/2006/11/operation_chris.html]


The booklet is directly aimed at turning young children into Christians and comes complete with a "sinner's prayer" of conversion and a pledge card. See for yourself.

Subpages (1): booklet letter
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