No Good News For You!

That the Christian Children's Fund dropped the word "Christian" is last year's news --and perhaps inevitable, since upon investigation it turns out the group hasn't had any programs with Christian content since the 1970s.  The Official Cartoonist of Wheat &Weeds missed it however, and offers this guest post and reflection:
I was looking for a random charity to support. So off I went to the Mall. Not really. But I was in a mall and I was solicited by Children’s Fund International to sponsor a child. They had a kiosk set up in the middle of the floor and they employed moderately aggressive sales tactics to get donors. By moderately aggressive I mean they approach you, get your name right away, and calculatingly employ your name in every sentence tele-market style.

Sam we help children all over the world... and for 28 dollars a month, Sam, you can provide a needy child an education. Furthermore, Sam, your contributions are 100% tax deductible."

The retail tactics of a charity are not what interest me (well, it interests me a little). But in an attempt to prove the legitimacy of Children’s Fund International, the sales representative explained they used be the Christian Children’s Fund. I found that very interesting. I asked why a Christian organization would drop the "Christian" identifier, expecting her to say the obvious,  but she didn’t say they were no longer a Christian organization. Instead what she said was, "Sam, we dropped the name because people were under the impression that we helped only Christian children.”

That answer was a little better than I was expecting. "So is there still ministry provided?" She did not say, "No, because we are no longer a Christian organization." What she said was, "we do not minister, Sam, because we do not wish to change the indigenous cultures we serve."

This answer was worse than I was expecting.

Clearly the Children’s Fund changed its name because it is no longer a Christian organization, but the sales rep would not forthrightly say that.

Jesus taught Christians to be fishers of men and that we do not live by bread alone, so what Christian with any sort of charity in his heart could think, "I could tell this child the Good News that God loves us, that Jesus died for our sins, and that through him we can have joy and eternal life... I could tell him that but I’m not gonna; all he’s getting from me is this crust of bread.
Me again: I don't know that it is always necessary to evangelize overtly. "Preach always. If necessary, use words," as St. Francis of Assisi said -- and Mother Teresa preferred to preach with her deeds. So I don't think ministry always needs to be explicit, especially when you're working in non-Christian nations. But the name "Christian" is itself a ministry -- it points silently to the One who is the inspiration for mission. As Bl. Charles de Foucauld wrote of his largely silent mission to the Muslims of Algeria:
My apostolate must be one of goodness. I must make people say this when they see me: "This man is so good that his religion must be good." If someone asks me why I am so gentle and good, I must reply, "Because I serve One who is much better than I am. If only you knew how good my Master, Jesus, is." I want to be so good that people will say, "If that is the servant, how, then, is the Master?"

A beautiful expression of the impulse behind Christian works of service!

How is it that Bl. Charles de Foucauld's Muslim neighbors, and the Missionaries of Charity's clients, and even our translators and enemy agents in Iraq can figure out that "Christian" ministries will serve and protect them too, but the clients of the Christian Children's Fund cannot? My criticism is not that they aren't Christian, it's that the Cartoonist is right, they should be sincere about it.