Operation Christmas Child.

(234 Posts)
AgitatedAtheist Tue 24-Sep-13 21:12:07


I'm not actually a parent - I'm a teenager. (I come in peace.)

At school a couple of days ago we were told that we would be supporting the Operation Christmas Child program. I don't agree with them, and I wonder what their motives really are. If anybody agrees with me, I want to ask if I should try and do anything about it.

The reason I've asked on here is because I wanted the opinions of some people with a bit more experience.

Thanks in advance smile

Housesellerihope Sat 02-Nov-13 18:53:31
Wellthen Sat 02-Nov-13 18:04:43

Sorry, wrong thread.

Wellthen Sat 02-Nov-13 18:04:10

The American, Canadian and British Samaritan's purses are separate charities so I dont think you should refer to an American issue in your letter.

Gutted - DCs brought home a letter from their nursery earlier in the week asking for donations for these shoeboxes. I'd never done a shoebox before so obediently donated and now I've come across this - it's definitely not an organisation I want to support. I feel it's too late to speak up now - the letters have gone out and gifts donated. How best to approach this, an email to the nursery manager suggesting non-religious alternatives for next year?

thaliablogs Tue 22-Oct-13 22:05:18

Argh. Just got these leaflets home from school. Have written to the head who I am sure has just not looked into this properly (but should not have sent a leaflet home if so). It is a c of e school but I would have expected more sensitivity. Let's see what response I get.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:53:32

Well, that will certainly be worth watching, solidgold smile

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:45:59

SuburbanRhonda, since it's you, Brian.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:40:55

Goodnight SuburbanRhonda, or can I just call you Rhonda?

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:38:53


It's been a long night smile

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 23:38:10

No, the " message of hope", as you put it, is that you believe they have a Creator. Subtle difference, often missed by those who seem unaware that other people might not agree with the.

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:27:30

SuburbanRhonda, the 'message of hope' is that they do have a Creator and that they can have relationship with Him

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 20:21:01

* if

SuburbanRhonda Sun 13-Oct-13 20:20:28

Brian, what happens of they don't believe in a "Creator"?

gooner1956 Sun 13-Oct-13 18:16:49

Dear all, here is an extract from the Operation Christmas Child Guide I wrote for Parents and Teachers last week. It's long but I wanted you to have it ...

Why we Speak of Hope

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 advertising 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, as part of the worldwide Church of God, we believe that charity and love are entwined together and therefore we encounter people in need in both word and deed.

Our Commitment to Share our Faith Appropriately, with Respect

We are committed to the code of conduct, jointly produced by the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance, for 'Christian witness in a multi-religious world' on 29th June, 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 we Speak of 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. By conquering death, Jesus offers renewal and the hope of life beyond death to anyone who wants it.

For us, if we fail to carry this message of hope, which is firmly established in the Bible, would be like depriving people of the opportunity to hear how their relationship with their Creator can be restored and how they can have hope.

Without this message of hope we can only offer short term help; with it we can offer long term hope. For Samaritan’s Purse help and hope go together. That is why we speak of faith.

Regards, Brian

SuburbanRhonda Sat 12-Oct-13 08:15:03

Also, it seems strange that when the leaflet was - let's be kind and say somewhat circumspect about the evangelical element of OCC, it was sent to schools and churches by the dozen. Presumably it was cheap then and OCC was still a charity?

Bit of a crap excuse, really, Brian.

exexpat Fri 11-Oct-13 22:28:24

The new download is 'available', but you haven't actually told anyone it is there (no emails to schools, for example?), and you have to register on the site even to be able to read it? I don't think that is really good enough.

DreaduCated Fri 11-Oct-13 22:20:08

So that's a no, then.

gooner1956 Fri 11-Oct-13 21:55:24

Exexpat, we stopped printing schools and church guides some time ago, it isn't cheap and we are a charity! A lot of our supporters were suggesting making those guides available as downloads would be a better use of the charity's money, so that's what we have done for the past several years. Even if we had the money, we don't have the time to print thousands of guides and post them out. Certainly the new download is available and we are still quite early into this year's campaign, so I'm sure many parents and teachers will see it. I have to tell you that it's been up for a week, there have been quite a few downloads and no complaints! Brian

exexpat Thu 10-Oct-13 16:59:55

Hello Brian - yes, good to see some progress, and no, we are never going to agree on many things.

But in any case, is there any chance you could answer my question above, about whether you are going to be actively circulating the new leaflet to schools and how you will make sure parents get to see it before they agree to let their children get involved? Otherwise it seems rather a wasted effort...

gooner1956 Thu 10-Oct-13 16:24:48

Exexpat, glad we've made some progress! Hasn't exactly been 'fun' but I have appreciated the opportunity to hear the concerns expressed and being given the opportunity to address those that I could. We're never going to agree on everything, we do hold different views on some things but that's fine. It's called tolerance and is very rare these days! So thank you!

Brian Bennett - Head of Communications
Samaritan's Purse International

JulieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Oct-13 22:32:43


Just to let you know that we're moving this to the charities noticeboard section.


edam Tue 08-Oct-13 22:32:32

gooner, there is no need to be patronising. A poster asked a question, I gave her some information. I'm allowed to do that, you know.

Sarcastic and childish remarks don't really help your cause.

exexpat Tue 08-Oct-13 21:15:05

By the way, I just noticed this thread is in chat, which means it will disappear in a couple of months. I think it has been very useful having Brian on this thread and getting his responses, as well as some interesting arguments and experiences from others, so I am going to ask MNHQ if they could move the thread to somewhere where it won't be deleted. I'm not sure where would be appropriate, though. Perhaps 'education', as it all started with a question from a school pupil about his/her school's participation in Operation Christmas Child?

exexpat Tue 08-Oct-13 21:00:01

OK, as a public service to the rest of mumsnet, I did register and download the leaflet. I have to say it does make the evangelical side of things much more explicit, almost as much so as the church leaflet previously linked to.

A few examples (I won't copy & paste the entire thing because of copyright, and it is also quite long - six pages):

"The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children around the world and, together with the local Church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ."

"Since 1990, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.
We always give shoeboxes to children based on need, regardless of their background or religious beliefs; each gift-filled shoebox is an unconditional gift of love.
Where appropriate, with each shoebox, our church partners on the ground may offer a little book of Bible stories; The Greatest Gift.
They may also give children receiving gift-filled shoeboxes the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey discipleship programme, subject to the consent of their parents, carers or guardians,
with ‘no strings attached’."

"The Greatest Journey is a voluntary follow-up course for children who have received shoeboxes through Operation Christmas Child, enabling them to interact with the Gospel, through Bible stories and Bible teaching.
The mission of The Greatest Journey is to help local churches overseas reach children with the Gospel, to establish them in their faith in Jesus Christ and to equip them to pray for and share the Gospel with their family and friends.
The Greatest Journey is a series of 12 lessons containing exciting Biblical content exclusively delivered and presented by trained volunteers from local churches, with training and all resources needed provided free of charge, at their request. Through this programme local believers are being empowered and enabled to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with children in their own communities.
Children completing The Greatest Journey are awarded a personal certificate and many will receive a special copy of the New Testament in their own language, which also contains Old Testament stories, colourful illustrations, memory verses and other learning aids. In many countries around the world, Bibles are rare, or hard to obtain; these Bibles become instant treasures, not only to the children receiving them but to their friends and families as well."

So, thank you Brian for doing that - it does go quite a long way towards answer a lot of my criticisms of the less-than-full-picture being presented to schools (though I still think schools should mention to parents that Samaritan's Purse is politically & ethically somewhat controversial even in the more evangelical-friendly context of the USA, and of course the other arguments to do with the limitations and inappropriateness of shoeboxes as a form of aid are not addressed).

Anyway, so far so good as far as clarifying the evangelical aims of Operation Christmas Child goes. But obviously, the leaflet is not much good if it is just on the website and requires people to seek it out, register and download it. Can I ask whether you will be actively circulating it to all the schools you are trying to involve in OCC, and asking them to make sure that parents read it before consenting to their children getting involved? I have a feeling that if it is widely distributed it may rather reduce your participation levels, but I am sure you agree that it is much more ethical to get fully informed participation.

By the way, I think it is a bit rich to accuse me & others on this thread of 'forcing an agenda' - we are not the ones going into schools and trying to get young children (of all faiths and none) involved in an evangelical Christian campaign; we are just responding to your agenda by offering a bit more information and a critical appraisal, in one small corner of the internet, for those who come looking for it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now