This topic is for registered charities to post about their organisation or campaigns. PLEASE NOTE: Mumsnet does not check/endorse any of the charities posting here, and folk considering donating funds should be aware that they do so at their own risk.

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

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 00:09:54

Thanks Parachuti, I just read it. I need to let my man who coordinates Operation Christmas Child in Eastern Europe see that note and have him check it out. I haven't been to Bosnia but I have met some of the teams who work there and I have meet people from the UK who have been there and, for this reason, I am most surprised to hear what PrincessSnowLife has said. I am going to contact her and ask her to let me have details of the nursery school in question....we can then follow this up. If she will help me do that, I would be more than happy to come back to this 'thread' and let you know what happened. That OK?


exexpat Tue 01-Oct-13 00:10:15

I'm very happy to hear you have your own views, and that you think homophobia is a sin. But it seems to me that your parent organisation does take a rather different stance, since it apparently sent out the 'support Chick-Fil-A'/anti-same-sex-marriage appeal to everyone on its email list, including people whose connection was via contributing to Operation Christmas Child.

Should that really part of the mission of an organisation that claims to be about spreading God's love and providing international relief? I think it would make a lot of people here deeply uncomfortable.

Perhaps the UK branch of SP doesn't get involved in that kind of issue, but as far as I can tell, you are very closely connected to the parent organisation, and OCC is run as a joint programme.

exexpat Tue 01-Oct-13 00:16:58

Threedaughters - if the people at your church are absolutely certain that no materials are handed out with the boxes, maybe they should read the Operation Christmas Child guide for churches, in particular page 4: "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".

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 00:17:02

Exexpat, again, I'm not going to comment on something I have no knowledge or experience of. While we here in the UK do not get involved in that kind of issue, we are an Affiliate and, clearly, what happens in the US can affect us here. Works both ways though, we benefit greatly from the fantastic reputation that Samaritan's Purse has around the world, with both governments and with non governmental organisations. We do some great work, I love being part of such a fantastic organisation! Brian

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 00:21:23

Parachuti, the wonders of the Internet....PrincessSnowLife's thread started over 5 years ago and is now considered DEAD. If anyone knows her, please have her contact me so that I can do as I have suggested. Thanks, Brian

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 00:23:57

Well people, it's been fun! I have just seen the clock and I think it's about time I turned in. Any last minute questions or comments before I go? Brian

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 00:26:21

OO, by the way, I'll be at the Christian Resources Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham this coming Thursday and Friday. If any of you are planning to attend, please pop by the Samaritan's Purse stand and say 'hello'! You might be surprised to know that we are not promoting Operation Christmas Child but our work with vulnerable children and families throughout the year! Brian

ravenAK Tue 01-Oct-13 00:30:17

Does that work 'help children in need', Brian?

Since you've clarified that the shoeboxes don't...

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 00:37:00

ravenAK, got it in one! We help lots of children in some fairly awful situations. We make sure they have shelter, clean water to drink, nutritious food, access to healthcare, help with school uniforms and school supplies. This kind of work is 24/7 and can take years...NOW, if you can pack all that into a shoebox, I'd be delighted to ship it for you, free of charge! Time for bed methinks, appreciate the banter! Brian

ravenAK Tue 01-Oct-13 00:48:56

To be blunt, Brian, you seem like a man who believes in what he does & genuinely believes that it does good.

But SP are soiled, for me, by the disingenousness around the OCC end of the operation.

You are getting people to spend money they may not be able to well afford themselves, on goods bought at retail prices that may well be culturally & practically inappropriate, & which certainly represent a staggeringly inefficient vector for actually helping people.

& I think OCC do what they do dishonestly. I think the donors, on the whole, envisage themselves as helping the recipients in a practical fashion, & you've been very open - on this thread at least - that they are not.

What they're mostly doing is creating an opening for the distribution of evangelical leaflets.

I wouldn't feel able to trust SP.

There are plenty of other charities out there, some with a Christian ethos, whose integrity is not compromised in this way.

gooner1956 Tue 01-Oct-13 01:12:09

ravenAK, I joined Mumsnet this year to really get to grips with why Operation Christmas Child causes some people so much grief. From what I now know, I believe the Schools Guide is the biggest issue, for many people. I am so annoyed that we weren't able to fix this for this year's campaign. I have worked hard over the past four years to bring much more transparency; I believe we are almost there, but the Schools Guide is a problem.

While we are now very upfront about who we are and what we believe, the Schools Guide does not clearly articulate the fact that gift-filled shoeboxes are distributed by churches who seek to build relationships with the children and their families. They do this by inviting the children and families to church where, very often, the children and their family get some real help with practical problems or issues. They will also hear the Gospel - it's church!

Where appropriate, they will also invite the children to go on The Greatest Journey course, where the children get to learn about Jesus. At no point in this relational activity is pressure being applied to the children or their families, at no point are they committed to doing anything - they can simply walk away with their shoeboxes. Many do.

What really pains me is that the Church Guide does go into some of this, so it comes as no surprise to me to hear the concerns, the suspicion and the angst being caused in schools and from those close to schools. I will fix this. We have a meeting scheduled for November 19 - the day after this year's campaign is finished - and I have already promised that the new Schools Guide will be published on Mumsnet.

I can't do any more than I am doing to bring clarity and shed light. Appreciate your continued patience. Good night! Brian

ravenAK Tue 01-Oct-13 01:45:15

The Schools Guide isn't the biggest problem.

You can't fix this by tweaking a pdf.

You need to look at what you've said in your last post from the POV of someone who is quite happy with their non-Christian worldview.

If you're going to 'invite the children to go on The Greatest Journey course' & 'learn about Jesus' - why on earth do they need to, unless you feel that the beliefs & values of their parents are inferior?

You seem to have no notion of how incredibly insulting & inappropriate that is to families who are not Christian.

What is the benefit to a child who has been brought up in a family which is atheist/Buddhist/Muslim in 'inviting the children and families to church'?

What's the desired outcome, from your perspective?

RaisingArizona Tue 01-Oct-13 05:26:41

I have read this thread with interest.

My family escaped from ethnic cleansing scourging our country. Our neighbours became our enemies, the religion we were born into and our racial features our death warrants.

So a goodly percentage of our country said what we believe is now punishable by torture, rape, arson, death, whilst another religion steps in and gives our children shoeboxes filled with things they mostly can't use, have nowhere to store or carry and are just too traumatised to appreciate. They are invited to find out about/join the religion behind these gifts.

The gifts and message seemed to carry the message that my children were not good enough and are sinful. They needed to receive these gifts in order to be saved by Jesus.

I am an atheist - I taught my children to treat others with compassion, love, kindness and humility, regardless of race or creed. Because no matter what, we all want the same for ourselves and our loved ones. No gift should be conditional or used as a way of promoting a cause, no matter now noble. If it is, then it's not a gift but an incentive/marketing tool. As many others on here point out, there are far better ways to help people caught up in the trauma of conflict and disaster.

EduCated Tue 01-Oct-13 08:03:12

There's so much I want to say. But RavenAK has said it all far more coherently.

DiamondMask Tue 01-Oct-13 09:29:33

what RavenAK said. Why not just give gifts to children and leave out the invitation to Jesus? It seems like Christians cant do anything without then telling you about their religion. To me, it tars any good works.

EduCated Tue 01-Oct-13 10:33:14

The entire thing is about making the people who take part feel like they've done something and SP using it as an 'in' to likely vulnerable people.

In an area where it would be culturally insensitive to distribute the religious material, is it not also insensitive to spread Christmas joy, assuming that Christmas is not celebrated in these areas? If it's not helping children, what is the point of running the scheme in those areas?

edam Tue 01-Oct-13 11:24:05

That's a very moving post, RaisingArizona.

EduCated Tue 01-Oct-13 12:22:14

RaisingArizona I just can't even begin to imagine being in that situation.

badtime Tue 01-Oct-13 16:12:30

I think it should be noted that Brian describes himself as a 'Bible-believing Christian'.

This is another term for a biblical literalist - i.e. literal Adam and Eve, literal flood, creation of the earth about 8000 years ago etc. He has, of course, every right to believe this; however, I think it explains some of his more unpalatable views (like only christians being able to teach right from wrong).

I also think it is probably significant that OCC/SP have a biblical literalist as their head of communications.

Brian, you seem to mean well, and genuinely be trying to help people (although, obviously, not with the shoe boxes). You should at least try to understand that people from many different religions and people with no religion also have good intentions and want to help people. These people would often prefer to do so through an organisation which does not promote a particular religion. It's as simple as that.

It doesn't mean they are trying to prevent children getting gifts. It doesn't mean that they reject ideas of right and wrong.

There are many other organisations and schemes which allow them to give gifts without the strings which appear to be attached by your organisation, and it is disingenuous of you to imply otherwise.

It is also rather odd that you engage non-faith schools in the UK in providing filled shoe boxes.

Why do you think that families of other faiths or no faith would want their donation to be distributed by churches along with the religious leaflets and invitations to church events?

The chances are that (as an example) a box prepared by a Muslim family will have been given to a Muslim child along with this Christian material. Do you really think that they would have chosen to donate in this way if they thought that they might be helping to convert someone from their own faith to another?

SpottedDickandCustard Mon 07-Oct-13 14:45:38

Hi all,

I have just received DS's latest newsletter to find they are doing this Opertaion Christmas child thing in his Primary school and they have been promoting it to the children in assembly (grr, that means DS will want to do it!).

I would like to email the Head and explain why DS wont be taking part and raising my concerns about the initiative. I am worried about offending him (it's a CofE school, although being christian is not one of the entrance requirements so there are kids of all faiths attending). I just don't want to be the troublesome parent!

I was just wondering if anyone could suggest some words or the best links to help me put my points across in a measured way ?

Many thanks.

edam Mon 07-Oct-13 16:50:16

Send the head the leaflet exexpat linked to and point out the bits where it talks about bringing children to Jesus.

edam Mon 07-Oct-13 16:54:05

e.g. "reaching children for Jesus through His Church…",

"In 2011, over 700,000 children enrolled on The Greatest Journey in some
of the world’s hardest-to-reach places. At the time of writing, over 388, 000
of these children have completed the programme with over 260,000 children
giving their lives to Christ. The programme has been implemented in 54
countries and has been translated into 21 different languages."

edam Mon 07-Oct-13 16:57:48

You could also have a look here although I'm not sure it's entirely up to date.

SpottedDick I preempted by writing to our HT asking him to consider a specific secular alternative which more closely fits the HT's declared charitable motives.

But ours is a non-denominational school so it is far easier to say "we shouldn't be evangelising".

Perhaps you could approach your head with a "You may not be aware that OCC have recently come in for criticism for prioritising evangelism/conversion over charitable giving. Could you possibly add a note to the next newsletter pointing out more explicitly that this is a Christian missionary organisation so that families can make an informed choice whether to participate?"

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