This was originally posted on 6 August 2006
The situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border over the past fortnight is horrific. It is not my intention to discuss the various merits of each side’s (by this I refer to Israel and Hizbullah) claims, although I believe both sides have a point and both have over reacted and need to be held to account for their actions.
The point of this post, however, is to ask for your input on a question this conflict has raised for me.
There is an organisation in South Africa called ‘The Gift of the Givers’. They collect essential supplies and provide services and medicines to people impacted by natural disasters and warfare. They have an impeccable reputation and are wonderfully transparent, highly accountable in their reporting and super media savvy. And they collect literally millions and millions of rands of supplies, and get it to disaster zones faster than anyone else seems able to.
And they are Muslim. Well, at least the founder is Muslim, and very vocal about his faith guiding his work. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman is one of the greatest people I have ever met, and is remarkable in his vision, his passion and his ability to get things done.
As I have considered how to contribute to some relief for those caught up in the current crisis in the Middle East, it struck me that the most appropriate and effective use of my donation would be to give it via The Gift of the Givers.
But should I? This is a question many Christians will ask themselves. They seem to have no proseletising motive – yet, I know how “devious” some Christian agencies are in this regard. As a Muslim organisation, there is no doubt an attempt to do what they do, “in the name of Allah”, even though this is never stated. Should this make a difference to whether we donate to them or not?
A further question is why are there no Christian agencies doing work in the Middle East right now? Oh, I am sure that there ARE some, but where is their profile? Or, to put it another way, where is the voice, and hands and feet of Jesus in this mess?
Should I scrounge around some more to find the Christian witness, or should I see the most obvious and visible and active channel as a means to touch the people in Lebanon. Does it matter that I do it in the name of Jesus, but do it through an organisation that does not? (If so, where does that leave all the non-aligned NGO’s, like Red Cross and UN?).
I’d appreciate your comments. My choice is to donate to Gift of the Givers, and support the superb humanitarian work they’re doing.