I am by nature a very selfish person. I’ll tell you that right up front. I won’t deny it. Often times I catch myself thinking about myself and what I can get out of situation. There are many times that my selfishness steals the joy that could be had by unselfishly giving to others.
Have you ever heard the old saying that the negative actions of others that most bother you are usually the exact negative things that you don’t like about yourself? Well, I realized that some of the things that I don’t like about my kids is the attitude of want, want, want that they have especially during the holiday season.
As I thought about it, I thought about how many people there are that are less fortunate than we are in our town, country and world, and I know parents often have a difficult time combating the “give me” culture that we live in. So I thought of six ways that I could get my kids to start thinking about giving and not about getting and I wanted to share those things with you all.
Ways to Share AbroadCompassion International
When I was in college, I remember a young man named Kees Boer speaking in chapel about sponsoring children from Compassion International. I remember picking up a couple of packets and looking them over and longing to perhaps sponsor some of the kids but knowing that I couldn’t afford it at that time. Years later I reconnected with Kees on Facebook. He was still working with Compassion International and was looking for a sponsor for a young boy from Bolivia named Marcelo. After a little prayer and talking it over with my family, we decided to sponsor Marcelo. Marcelo has changed our life and blessed us in so many more ways than you can imagine. Now, that young boy is in college and we are still sponsoring him. We love Marcelo just as we love the other seven . . . yes I said seven . . . other children that we have sponsored or do sponsor in one way or another through Compassion. My children have been blessed and have learned so much through their correspondence with their brothers and sisters from around the world. Trust me, it will be an investment that will change your life as well. Just click on one of the links above to find out more. If you would rather sponsor through another organization there are many more great ones out there. Compassion International is the one we know the most about and trust them completely.
Give a Goat!
Can’t afford to monthly sponsor a child? Give a goat instead! Or a cow, or a pig, or . . . the list goes on and on. Compassion International publishes a Christmas Catalogue every year where you can help a child in many different ways from providing a Bible to a child for $10 to providing a goat to provide milk for an entire family for $100. Check out the catalogue by clicking on the highlighted link above to see the different options and watch the video below for more information on this great program.
Fair Trade Friday and Mercy House
I remember when Kristen Welch went on a blogging trip to Kenya with Compassion International. It was a life changing trip. I remember reading her post about meeting her Kenyan Compassion child. I remember her heart wrenching posts about the impoverished living environments that these children and their families live in. Then, I remember her recalling that when she came home she wondered how she could live in a big home with all of the stuff when most families in Kenya were living in areas that were about the size of her garage. She longed to do something more and sought the Lord’s guidance. Soon, her family started a non-profit organization and Mercy House was born to help women and girls around the world. Fair Trade Friday is ministry of Mercy House. Here is what Fair Trade Friday’s website says about their ministry. “FTF exists as an avenue for women to empower women. We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, more than 500 women and their children from all over the world. FTF is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya, a non-profit organization.” Check out their great program by clicking on any of the highlighted links above. It is a wonderful opportunity to buy gifts in a very unselfish way.
Bead for Life
Bead for Life is another inspiring story of how three woman walking through the slums of Uganda met a woman sitting in front of her home and making bead necklaces. That chance encounter, with God’s help, turned into Bead For Life. I learned about this program through, yes, Compassion International and bought some of the jewelry for my wife. She absolutely loves it. Shhh . . . I’m going to buy more as a Christmas gift for her again this year. Check them out by clicking on one of the highlighted links above.
Ways to Share At HomeVolunteer at a local food bank, shelter, or soup kitchen
I once shared about Compassion International on Facebook and lost a friend. Before he deleted me from his Facebook account he wrote a scathing note to me about how we need to be taking care of the children and families living in poverty in the United States before we help those abroad.
Perhaps some of you feel the same way. I get it! I really do! You see, my family and I are full time missionaries who direct a ministry to low income folks in the town that we live in. We give out food, serve meals, do Bible Studies, and help the people to help themselves through things such as cooking classes and the CanDo Bazaar (I CAN DO all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13) where folks can sell craft items or baked goods to help make a little extra money for the holidays.
So, we do understand the need to help those at home as well.
I’m sure there are many opportunities to give in your area. Ask around about local food banks or soup kitchens where you can volunteer. Perhaps a church is serving a meal to low income folks and you can volunteer for it. Some civic organizations such as the Jaycees put on annual toy drives for kids. The Salvation Army is always looking for bell ringers during the holiday season. Here is a website of locations that are currently looking for ringers – Ringbells.org. There are lots and lots of ways that you and your kids can be involved. Perhaps your local Chamber of Commerce can help you find a place as well.
Send a kid to camp
I remember going to camp as a kid and what a blessing it was to me. In fact, it was such a blessing and I enjoyed it so much that I have spent the last 30+ summers working at camps or directing my own camps. Camps are near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, there are many families that can’t afford to send their kids to camp. Why not sponsor a kid to go to camp next summer? What a thrill that would be if a child opened up a card that contained an invitation to go to camp for free this next year! If you know of a local camp, why not call them up and find out how to sponsor a child (or two or three). If you don’t know of a local camp, the mission organization that we are with, BCM International, has camps in the United States and all around the world that are looking for people to donate to their camp scholarship programs. Just click here (click on the “designation” box and you’ll see the Camp Scholarship choice) or on the highlighted link above to find out more information.
Well, I pray that I have given you some food for thought and some good choices on how to teach your kids to give and not just get this Christmas. Perhaps none of the suggestions above work for you but your interest has been sparked and you have another way to serve this holiday season. Whatever you do, if you do something, leave me a comment below and tell me what you did and how it went. It would bless my heart to know that this blog post helped some other people. Thank you ahead of time!
Proverbs 19:17 New International Version
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.