Operation Narnia Gives Hope This Christmas

By Andy_Argyrakis
Posted: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 17:49

album promo image for Operation Narnia Gives Hope This Christmas

By Andy Argyrakis, senior editor, gmclife.com

Between its time in book and big screen formats, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is amongst the most treasured series of all time. With timeless morality-based messages, plenty of adventure, remarkably witty literary prose and even more powerful theatrical production qualities, it’s easy to see why audiences of all ages and walks of life have resonated with the tales, though regardless of the format, each story remains grounded in truth.

The latest to hit the silver screen is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third overall title in the fantasy epic but first to be filmed in 3D format. As a result, colorful characters like Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, plus their cousin Eustace, leap to life after being swallowed by a painting and taken aboard the giant Dawn Treader ship. Along the way, they meet up with the mighty King Caspian, a warrior mouse named Reepicheep and the “Great Lion” Aslan, all while battling temptations and enemies in hopes of preserving Narnia’s overall fate.

Introducing Operation Narnia
While the story is full of all the twists and turns fans have come to expect from Lewis’ complex but still accessible writings, the fictional aspect makes some of the more daunting scenes a lot easier to swallow. But an underlying lesson viewers are likely to digest is the unavoidable reality that hardships exist in real life, most overtly, the ideas of oppression and poverty. And with the holidays coming right around the corner, the folks behind The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Twentieth Century Fox and Walden Media) are partnering with world relief charity organization Samaritan’s Purse, whose annual Operation Christmas Child initiative will now adapt an Operation Narnia twist in hopes of curbing that very cluster of crisis.

"We hope that through this partnership, Narnia fans help give Christmas to needy children around the world," says Michael Flaherty, co-president of Walden Media.

“Early this year, some members of the leadership team from Operation Christmas Child were invited by the studio for feedback and impression of the film, particularly how fans of Narnia could put their faith into action,” recalls Operation Christmas Child director Randy Riddle of the unique tag team’s beginnings. “We came to the conclusion that fans of the Narnia movies and of C.S. Lewis’ writings in general may also be interested in Operation Christmas Child as an example to do just that.”

Faith in Action
In fact, anyone who sees the movies in theatres will learn first hand just how beneficial the program is during a poignant preview message, while those who visit the Operation Narnia website (www.operationnarnia.org) can also score all the pertinent details. Regardless of how one finds out about the cause, the nuts and bolts of the project are for donors to make up a gift box comprised of anything from children’s toys to books to school supplies or toiletries, which will be delivered to more than eight million children in 130 countries (many of whom will be receiving Christmas presents for the very first time).

“When our characters first came into Narnia, it was always winter and never Christmas [but] thanks to Aslan, that’s now changed,” observes actress Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy Pevensie, during a video blog to fans on Operation Narnia’s website. “For 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has been making sure that millions of children each year get to experience Christmas. Working together, our goal is to give gifts this Christmas to more than 8 million children around the world, but we need your help. Please consider making a box for a needy child. It’s easy and it’s fun. Together, let’s make the best Christmas ever...”

Gifts Meet the Gospel
As for those specifically looking to lend a hand with Operation Narnia, there are three age groups to consider when making purchases and boxing gifts. The first category falls between ages two and four, followed by five to nine, and then 10 to 14, a cumulative range that totals an astounding 1.6 billion underprivileged children across the globe.

“In addition to adventure and the whimsical nature of C.S. Lewis, the themes throughout The Chronicles of Narnia include redemption, salvation and the ability to overcome difficult circumstances,” relates Riddle. “We believe it’s a great fit with Narnia because it lends itself towards giving, and in turn, we can share the message of God giving us the greatest gift in His son Jesus.”

Even more important than the presents themselves are the tracts containing Gospel messages that accompany each package. And those boxes and booklets aren’t just handed out blindly to children, but rather the first phase of a discipleship program led by local pastors and evangelists in their respective countries to cultivate a deeper faith amongst recipients. Perhaps Samaritan’s Purse president Franklin Graham puts it best in this year’s official mission statement behind the project: “We want children around the world to know the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ – and the joy and hope that this brings.”

Aside from Operation Narnia fostering that spirit this Christmas, Samaritan’s Purse will continue providing relief assistance all across the world as situations arise. For instance in 2010, it was amongst the first to respond with medical supplies following Haiti’s monstrous earthquake. “We were able to build more than 10,000 temporary shelters that housed up to 80,000 people,” adds Riddle. “Whenever there’s a natural disaster or a man made crisis, you can find Samaritan’s Purse reaching out to locals in the name of Jesus.”


About the Writer

Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).

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