The advent of “the most wonderful time of the year” is upon us once again. We anticipate the season with restless impatience. When it finally arrives, without fail, many of us symbolically combust with animated merriment.
The undertaking of Christmas is a series of well-understood rituals, a spirited rush to produce the ideal Christmas experience for our loved ones.
Yet, within this merry assortment there lies a danger of getting lost in our personal gift- giving without sincerely appreciating the glaring need outside our immediate relations.
Every Christmas, a reminder of the underprivileged and less fortunate is offered by a range of dutiful volunteers ringing bells and filling buses. Opportunities to donate are dependably available this time of year. However, there exists a distressing commentary in our culture that giving to charity is a chore one performs while walking into department stores intent on purchasing ‘necessary things’, whether selfless or otherwise.
What does this really say, though? If you’re even reading this article you already have advantages over many others, as internet usage is quite honestly a luxury. We are not in want, though each Christmas the visible customs often characterize a cultural discontentment with what we already have. We’re constantly reminded of “things” during the holidays, while forgetting the occasion once genuinely represented thankfulness and admiration of God’s entry into this broken world.
This conversation is especially important for those who do proclaim Christ. Jesus calls us each day to clothe the needy and feed the poor. And this is not a theoretical mission of conforming our hearts and minds, but an essential command of literally going and doing. In the Gospel of Matthew we are presented a scene of a rich young man who asks Christ how he can continue to grow in righteousness, having already done his best to keep the commands passed down from God to Moses. Christ’s response is, I hope, a commission for each one of us in attitude, if not in fact by genuine action. Christ said to the young man, “…go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Christ says go.
In his book Searching for God Knows What, author Donald Miller speaks about a man he knew who deeply believed that when Christ compels to clothe the needy and feed the poor He actually calls us to a literal, physical and glorious commission. And I agree.
Therefore, my challenge to every one of you is this: For Christmas this year let us clothe the needy and feed the poor. We live in plenty, and “to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). So why not give to those who have not instead of giving to those who already have? This Christmas, rather than purchasing loved ones gifts, might we instead give that money to charity to meet the needs of those who are in fact in want? I could not think of a greater gift.
This can obviously lead to anxiety on how to give, or who to give to, therefore, here is a list of charities and ideas for support on a global, national and local scale:
There is a tremendous need in impoverished nations all over the world. Donating on a global plane affords you the opportunity to reach out to communities in amazing ways. Much of the need throughout the world is seen in providing small villages and communities with practical resources they need on a day-to-day basis.
- Through World Vision you can donate in a variety of ways to children and small villages, and even learn a great deal about the impact this kind of generosity has had on people throughout the world.
- Gospel for Asia is a non-profit that enables missionaries all over South Asia spread the love of Christ to those in third-world living conditions. You can donate in numerous ways, including purchasing Christmas gifts for South-Asian children in need.
- Samaritan’s Purse is also an international relief organization that seeks to impact third world nations as a reflection of the generosity of Christ. You can purchase gifts through their expansive catalogue and provide much needed goods people all over the world.
- Freedom from Hunger is a highly rated foundation that seeks to not only feed underprivileged families and communities, but also to equip and educate them on solutions for personal and sustainable development.
There are other worthy charities to support, including relief efforts for those devastated by the recent typhoon in the Philippines and other relief efforts around the globe.
On a national level there are plenty of worthy organizations you can support. Donating on a national scale benefits the lives of fellow Americans that we don’t always appreciate.
- The Angel Tree Project is a program within the Prison Fellowship organization that provides Christmas gifts to the children of incarcerated parents. The effort is a tremendous outreach that could very well change the lives of those who receive.
- Many go hungry each year because of homelessness and poverty, and the need is profound during the holiday and winter months. Donating to various charities that work to feed these people is a profound way to live out Jesus’ example. Some good opportunities are available through City Harvest of New York, Feeding America, and Souper Bowl of Caring, which is a great resource if you’re looking for other ways to fight hunger in America.
- Additionally, donating to ethical cancer research is incredibly valuable. The V Foundation and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital are two of America’s most celebrated charities and aiding these organization will go a long way in the lives of many.
Finally, engaging charitably in your local community has vast importance in living out the Gospel. In nearly every city and town there is a unique opportunity to help out monetarily or physically this holiday season. Donate to local food drives, and find places in which you can give toys and gifts to needy children in your area. Toys for Tots is a wonderful charity and they have donation locations all over the county.
As well, for OKWU and the greater community of Bartlesville there is a terrific opportunity to impact the lives of two teenage girls and their families this Christmas with the grace of God. These girls are both facing pregnancy and the difficult repercussions it will have, and already has had on their young lives. Both of the girls are committed to giving birth to what will be two beautiful children, but they will need a lot of love and support as they face the future. The Oklahoma Wesleyan Spiritual Life Team is working closely with the families to assure everyone involved is taken care of.