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In discussing social justice there is some dissent as to what social justice truly is, there are many organizations both religious and secular, the consider themselves to be social justice oriented or that claim to distribute justice to people in the name of God. In this paper, I will be discussing Samaritan’s Purse, I will be looking at their major projects, how successful they are, and whether or not they count as a social justice oriented organization.
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Founded in 1970 by a man named Bob Pierce, Samaritan’s Purse is an international, Evangelical Christian charity. The inspiration for the founding of the organization came to Pierce after he had visited the South Korean island of Koje-do. The people on this island, most especially the children, were living in very harsh, poverty stricken conditions, upon experiencing this Pierce returned to the states and set about to aid those people he had met in Koje-do, with this idea in mind he founded and began to lead Samaritan’s Purse. In his works, he met a young man named Franklin Graham. Graham accompanied Pierce on various missions and eventually, in 1978, when Pierce passed away from Leukemia, Graham became the leader of Samaritan’s Purse. Graham remains the president and CEO of the organization to this day.
The pursuits of Samaritan’s Purse focus mainly on providing basic supplies and ministering to people in developing countries and poverty stricken areas. Their most funded and likely most well-known project is Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a global project which is performed with the assistance of people all across the country. The way one contributes to Operation Christmas Child is by purchasing a seven dollar label from Samaritan’s Purse and attaching it to a shoe box, which one will then fill with small toys and some essential items, (based on the checkboxes that are marked on the label, i;e 7-12 year old girl, 14-17 year old boy, etc.). After filling the box, it is shipped off to be sent to a child somewhere in the world who “needs” it.
Their second and third most funded projects are their emergency/disaster relief projects and their community development projects. Their most recent emergency relief project is one focusing on aiding Syrian refugees in Greece and Croatia. Samaritan’s Purse has staff on five different islands in the area. These staff members service the refuges by providing them with backpacks of essential items, such as water, protein bars, socks, blankets, soap and other things, to carry on their journey across Europe. They also temporary living areas with Wi-Fi and phone charging stations so that refugees may have access to information and a way to contact their loved ones. Thirdly, they give pre-paid debit cards to women and families who need them so that they may purchase any items they especially need.
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Concerning the community development projects, the results and aims of these projects are varied from agricultural assistance to helping women start their own small businesses. On the more agricultural side of things, Samaritan’s Purse provides various kinds of domesticated farm animals to families across the world and trains those families to care for the animals, including chickens, goats, sheep, cows, and even llamas. They also help to encourage sustainable farming efforts and donate saplings of fruiting trees to many different communities. Another aspect of their community development projects is the construction side. Samaritan’s Purse aids in the construction of hospitals, schools, churches, and houses for the communities with which they work.
Their community development projects also include their women projects. These are the works that focus on aiding women in developing countries in a number of ways. The funding for these projects allows Samaritan’s Purse to provide women with aid in the forms of vocational training, literacy, medical care, and counseling. Along with usual religious ministry that Samaritan’s Purse provides to the communities it aids.
The least funded major type of “ministry” that Samaritan’s Purse does is their medical ministry. They do provide medical aid in a number of countries, however this aid is almost nothing in comparison to their larger projects such as Operation Christmas Child, and their community development projects. Their medical ministry involves sending doctors and nurses to developing areas in order to provide basic medical care and administer much needed vaccinations in those areas.
After presenting all of these projects it begs the question as to whether or not Samaritan’s Purse is successful as an organization, I believe that the answer is yes. Samaritan’s Purse has very successful projects and campaigns, Operation Christmas Child may be the most successful charity based children’s ministry that exists. Over two hundred million dollars were contributed to Operation Christmas Child in the year two thousand and fifteen This is an incredible number for a project that is sourced almost entirely from the general population.
Their other campaigns, while significantly smaller than Operation Christmas Child, are still very successful. Their community development projects received over thirty million dollars in funding last year, and their disaster relief projects received a similar amount. Therefore, in general, the campaigns and goals set forth by Samaritan’s Purse are successful for what they are. I believe that Samaritan’s Purse accomplishes what they have set out to accomplish.
However, therein lies the important question, what are they accomplishing exactly? Is Samaritan’s Purse to be considered a social justice organization? In general, I do not believe that Samaritan’s Purse can be qualified as a social justice organization. While the work that they do is much appreciated, and work that needs doing, it is not particularly focused towards social justice. Operation Christmas Child is extremely well funded; however, it does not aim to actually lift children out of their impoverished situations, and while it is good to bring children some small joys, Samaritan’s Purse does not seek to permanently change the living situations of these children.
It is possible that some of their community development projects could be considered social justice, such as their women’s projects, the reasoning being that the particular types of aid they provide to women can (and in some cases, do) help to permanently improve the life of the woman being given aid. Alas, these projects are an exception and not the rule for Samaritan’s Purse. The majority of their projects focus on work of provision, even their refugee projects have similar angles, as they only provide the refugees with temporary housing and some essentials.
In conclusion, Samaritan’s Purse has many projects that are successful and meet the goals that the organization is setting. However, the majority of these projects and therefore Samaritan’s Purse should not be considered social justice oriented.
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