Samaritan’s Purse UK Executive Director, Simon Barrington, explains why we speak of hope, as well as demonstrate it, here at Samaritan’s Purse…
In accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, we are committed to religious freedom as a fundamental human right. Thus, every person has the right to form their own religious convictions or ideological commitment-free and undisturbed – and to exercise their religion or belief and act according to its laws, including to advertise it.
As a Christian organisation, our work is motivated by our Christian convictions and allows for the direct or indirect explanation of the foundations of our faith. However, and vitally, we reject any form of coercion, manipulation or exploitation of an emergency or a person’s situation in order to share our faith.
In accordance with Article 14 of the UN Children’s Convention we “respect the child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.
As Christians and as part of the worldwide Church of God, charity and love are entwined together and therefore we encounter people in need both in word and deed.
Acting with integrity
As a long-standing member of umbrella bodies(such as BOND), recipients of aid from the Department for International Development (DfiD) and partners in distributing aid from the World Food Programme and other United Nations agencies, we affirm that we are committed to the highest standards of integrity and dignity of all peoples in the distribution of aid.
In particular our field handbooks for all staff, from all our global offices and partners contain the following instructions:
- SP provides assistance to beneficiaries on a need-only basis, without regard for any individual’s religion, creed, race, sex, ethnicity, or political view.
- Relief goods made available by SP are distributed freely to qualified beneficiaries according to the criteria established at each program site.
- Beneficiaries are not required to listen to or view audio/video tapes, read tracts, or hear any presentation of a religious message.
- All monies received by SP are used for the purposes by which the donor designated them. For example, emergency food funds are used to buy and distribute emergency food. Evangelism funds are used to support evangelism activities.
- No individuals will ever be denied relief aid because of their beliefs and acceptance or rejection of any religious message.
Our commitment to share our faith appropriately and with respect
At the same time, we are committed to the publication jointly by the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance code of conduct for ‘Christian witness in a multi-religious world’ on 29.06.2011.
This is introduced with these words: “Mission belongs to the very being of the church. Proclaiming the word of God and witnessing to the world is essential for every Christian. At the same time, it is necessary to do so according to Gospel principles, with full respect and love for all human beings”
Why do we talk about our faith
The desire for vibrant, healthy relationships unites all people. However our reality is often shaped by the hopelessness of disturbed and disrupted relationships. Sustainable, reliable relationships therefore need to be restored.
This begins with our relationship with God, who introduces himself to us in the Bible – and Jesus Christ gives us bridge to Him. By conquering death, Jesus offers to anyone who wants it renewal and the hope of life beyond death.
If people accept the claim, it changes their life: Faith thus becomes the basis of improvement of their relationship with God and their environment. Regenerated relationships renew dignity and encourage responsibility.
For us, if we fail to carry this message of hope, which is firmly established in the Bible, it is like depriving people of the opportunity to hear how their relationships can be restored and how they can have hope.
We recognise that without this we can only offer short term help, but with it we can offer long term hope. So, for us, help and hope go together. That is why we speak of faith.