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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

Dwinhofficoffi Wed 25-Sep-13 11:56:53

Got o be honest I was told when I went to Romania that the ones sent there are taken by the parents so that they can sell all the stuff in them. Quite often there is a toy collection from social services or one of our charity shops collects for children in the area who have very little.

acsec Wed 25-Sep-13 14:47:03

IsleofRight Link to Hope (previously Link Romania) do shoe boxes. I've linked in my previous post. They have no hidden agenda and are approved by the Humanist Society. That's who my DSS' school are supporting this year.

AgitatedAtheist Wed 25-Sep-13 15:18:49

Thanks, as soon as I can print a few web pages out I'll be going to the Head. The Mary's Meals one seems to look good.

gooner1956 Wed 25-Sep-13 16:21:20

Dear all, I work for Samaritan's Purse, as do a number of good, honest, hard-working people and many thousands of volunteers up and down the country. I see this year's anti-Operation Christmas Child campaign has kicked off early and I just wanted to let everyone know that what is being written, and much of what has been written by those opposed to the programme over many years, is misleading and totally untrue. I'd be happy to answer any questions from anyone who has a genuine desire to know the truth but let me say this: Gift-filled shoeboxes are given unconditionally to needy children, regardless of race, colour, creed or religious belief - no strings attached. Merry Christmas and thanks to so many Mumsnet parents for supporting this programme over the years. Brian Bennett - Samaritan's Purse UK

edam Wed 25-Sep-13 16:26:57

Brian, tell me, why would a Christian organisation be giving Christmas presents to Muslim children, exactly? What innocent reason could there be?

I'm afraid I've seen evidence that OCC is indeed concerned with converting Muslim children. On your own website. Maybe it's been taken down since I did some research three or four years ago when ds's school decided to donate shoeboxes but it was there, I saw it with my own eyes. As have plenty of other people.

trockodile Wed 25-Sep-13 16:39:05

Brian-I haven't commented on this thread although I did make several posts last year on the fact that Shoeboxes as a whole seem unenvironmetally friendly, potentially unfair-not enough boxes, unequal contents etc, the contents are often not appropriate to the countries or situations they are sent to (gelatine sweets/toiletries not generally used/culturally inappropriate toys etc) and actually cause a lot of unneccessary work for the aid workers etc. Personally I refuse to support the homophobia/right wing Christianity which characterises the Samaritans's Purse (how much charity money was spent advertising against equal marriage in New York again?) and also I feel that UK schools have a duty to inclusivity and should not be promoting SP as an organisation.

My question however, seeing you have asked is; given that you tweeted "Will Graham: I hope it's a shoebox that brings the last Christian into the Kingdom before He comes again!" do you feel it is appropriate to ask people of other or no religions to support you in effectively attempting to convert children by bribery?

gooner1956 Wed 25-Sep-13 16:39:49

Edam, as I have said, gift-filled shoeboxes are given unconditionally to needy children, regardless of race, colour, creed or religious belief. This is a most inclusive campaign, why would we want to exclude anyone? If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it!

exexpat Wed 25-Sep-13 16:43:44

Brian/Gooner - if the point of OCC is not to convert children to Christianity, why does the organisation repeatedly use the slogan "every shoebox a gospel opportunity"?

gooner1956 Wed 25-Sep-13 16:46:36

Trockodile, to answer your question: I was quoting Will Graham who is equally entitled to express his opinion as you are. I need to help you understand something...a gift-filled shoebox converts nobody; all it does is express the love, care and compassion of the person sending it. That's what this programme is all about and why so many people support it.

exexpat Wed 25-Sep-13 16:47:48

This is the leaflet Samaritan's Purse gives to churches promoting Operation Christmas Child - Sharing God's Love, Sharing God's Word which makes it very plain that this is an evangelical campaign.

It is therefore highly inappropriate for schools to get involved unless they are sure that all their pupils and their families support the evangelical aims.

trockodile Wed 25-Sep-13 16:51:19

Brian-nobody is disputing the right of Will Graham to express an opinion, although as you tweeted it without explanation one would assume you agree?

edam Wed 25-Sep-13 16:53:35

Thanks for the link exexpat. Some highlights for anyone who hasn't clicked:

"However, Operation Christmas Child is also about more than just shoeboxes. These gifts are an incredible opportunity to both show God’s love in action, and share God’s love in words. In fact, we see these shoeboxes as being part of God’s global mission – reaching children for Jesus through His Church…

"Each year, thousands of churches discover for themselves the power of a
simple gift through Operation Christmas Child. But it goes far beyond just
putting a smile on a child’s face.
In fact, a shoebox can also be a powerful tool for mission – both overseas
and at home.

"The Gospel: The truth about Jesus Christ is presented to many children
receiving shoeboxes, who also receive a copy of The Greatest Gift – an
illustrated booklet of Bible stories handed out alongside these shoeboxes.
Shoeboxes are Gospel opportunities…
The Church: Through Operation Christmas Child, local churches overseas
are trained and supported to not only deliver shoeboxes to children in need
within their communities, but also to reach children and their families with
the love and truth of Christ.
Shoeboxes are church builders…
The Journey: Through The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson
programme run by the local church following a shoebox
distribution, children who have received a shoebox are
invited to come back and hear more about
the story of Jesus..."

exexpat Wed 25-Sep-13 16:54:08

And for comparison, this is the information/promotion pack provided to schools - Fill a Child's Life with Joy this Christmas - which fails to mention the evangelical side of things at all. It is highly misleading.

gooner1956 Wed 25-Sep-13 16:54:42

Exexpat, a gift-filled shoebox is indeed a Gospel opportunity but not in and of itself. We work through local churches in the countries where shoeboxes are distributed and, where possible, they will often seek to establish a connection with the child and his or her family, inviting them to attend church. Very often these families will receive help and support from their local church and, if they decide to go to church, that's where they will hear the Gospel. It's really no different to what happens here, where UK churches use a variety of means to invite people to church, join an Alpha course, whatever....

Since 1993, 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.

This is from this website

You are trying to suggest you are not evangelising through these boxes? Especially when Samaritans Purse describes itself as

Samaritan's Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan's Purse has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God's love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Taken from

^Q. What is the mission of Operation Christmas Child?

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

Q. What is Samaritan’s Purse

A. Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian relief and evangelism organization led by Franklin Graham. Read about our history here.^

SoonToBeSix Wed 25-Sep-13 16:57:06

These threads wind me up , there are no conditions or obligation to attend religious meetings.

edam Wed 25-Sep-13 16:58:22

gooner, I'd have much more respect for SP and OCC if you were honest about your activities. IIRC dishonesty is a sin, isn't it?

If you told potential donor schools and children that you are an evangelical organisation that will encourage children who receive boxes to attend church and hear the story of Jesus, that would be fair enough. But you don't.

gooner1956 Wed 25-Sep-13 16:59:18

Exexpat, I really need to go home now but the Schools Guide to which you so kindly provided a link says, quite clearly on the front cover, and I quote;

Operation Christmas Child is an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse – a Christian relief and development charity which works through local churches to proclaim and demonstrate the love of God to children and families in need across Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

I don't understand how this can be construed as misleading...

Demonstrating Christian values by doing good works is one thing; linking those good works to evangelising is quite another.

Habbibu Wed 25-Sep-13 17:02:10

These things always strike me as a massively inefficient way to distribute charity. Surely it would be cheaper to bulk buy the gifts and distribute them in wee bags or something? The backpack idea for Mary's Meals makes more sense to me. Our school does Vision Romania, and I really don't know anything about them, which makes me a bit concerned.

Igloofornow Wed 25-Sep-13 17:02:32

Our school do Rotary Kids, DS came home with his box on Monday.

gooner1956 Wed 25-Sep-13 17:03:50

Edam, have you visited our website? Have you read our materials? Let me tell you something that may surprise you...NO-ONE going onto our website to find out more about the programme, or request resources, is left in doubt about who Samaritan's Purse is, what Operation Christmas Child is, what we believe and what we stand for...we can't be more honest, so I'd ask you to take back your comment to the contrary

exexpat Wed 25-Sep-13 17:04:07

So Brian/Gooner - why should children and families who are not evangelical Christians be encouraged (and often pressurised - classes compete to see who can donate the most boxes) to provide you with the means to encourage/invite people to sign up for bible classes?

Habbibu Wed 25-Sep-13 17:05:50

I can't imagine the children receiving the boxes are going on to the website.

trockodile Wed 25-Sep-13 17:08:43

Brian-the leaflets provided for schools are very different to these provided for churches. Many parents would take that at face value and not have the time, resources or indeed the inclination to do anything other than accept the leaflet given to them by the school. Blaming busy parents for not taking the time to understand that you are attempting to use these as a gospel opportunity is pretty low.

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