I am very glad that many of us at Desperate-for-Christ Fellowship were able to participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse.
I wish my memory served me better on this, but it seems that the promotional video we watched this year had more of an emphasis on how each child would receive a Gospel tract and now 1,000's had commited themselves to Jesus, than in pervious years. Maybe we just watched a difference segment.
It seemed from the presentation that the value of giving these gifts must be measured by how many children confess Jesus as a result. I am all for coming to trust in Jesus, and actually am concerned that in certain circles that seems to be intentionally left out- as if we are going to help people with their real needs . . . like food, shelter, education, medicine.
Can I reject both camps? I don't want to be kind only to convert, but also not to only do good and never tell what is good.
To treat people as whole beings is to bring the good of God to their whole life. What good to do first, or how to serve others in what order, must be occasioned by the person, circumstance, and moment. Some interactions that Jesus had with people seemed to be devoid of any concern toward their physical well-being (and who has no needs to be addressed?), while other times he seemed to address a physical need with little gesture to other matters.
I believe that ultimately the whole person is addressed by the good news. The good news should not be reduced to apply only to certain parts of a person. Helping someone with a physical need has value . . . not more and not less value than telling someone about their inward journey toward God.