Sunday, December 8, 2013

Give A Child A Gift That Gives All Year Long

What Is the Problem With This Time of the Year?

It is that time of the year, the time when those of us parents, even we Christian parents, are hitting the stores to buy our children the gifts they may have wanted all year long. In this digital age, we parents are buying our children, at ever-younger ages, devices like iPods, iPads, cell phones, even Smartphones, tablets, even laptop computers. We want them to have all that their peers have! After all, our children may wail, "But Mom and Dad! All the other kids have one! Do you want me to be left out?" We don't want our children to be left out! Aside from the safety issues of getting these devices (aside from regular cell phones) in light of them running data that can make minors vulnerable to predators, there's the sheer material this all teachers our children. We Christians know that our Savior warns us not to "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth" and to "Beware of covetousness, for the abundance of life is not found in wealth." Yes, my spouse and I can relate to this cultural pressure as we are dealing with these same pressures to get "the best" for our daughter.

What Can We Do About This?

This past week, at our worship service, the sermon topic was titled, "It Isn't Your Birthday!" In other words, we behave as though this time of the year were our birthday (I'm not talking about those who DO have birthday at this time or on Christmas Day). It's reflected in how, with astounding frenzy, we hit the stores in search of the best deals. There's nothing wrong with wanting to show our love for family or close friends by giving them gifts. But don't we take it too far and get into materialism when we lavish our money on family or friends, giving our children toys or items they may enjoy today but be bored with tomorrow? By such behavior, we betray that we forget that we serve a God Whose nature is to give, give, give, all year long. There is nothing in His Word that commands us to get caught up in this yearly materialistic frenzy to celebrate all these festivities. We are told, though, to "Be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." In last week's sermon, we were challenged, "What is on Jesus' wish list? What kind of gifts would make Him happy?" I do not think any of us who have even a casual knowledge of the Person of Christ or the Bible, would have trouble answering that question. In Scripture and in the life of Jesus, God reveals Himself as a giving God and that He wants us to give, every day of the year. At this time of the year, this means that He wants us to focus on what we can give, give, and give.

How Does Helping Fight World Poverty Figure In?

As many of us parents, guardians and others in in North America and Europe seek to lavish gifts on our children to give them what our culture has convinced us, is "a Christmas they must have," there are countless children throughout Asia, Africa and other parts of the world whose only thought is to survive. Many times, they don't have access to clean drinking water. This leaves people, especially children, vulnerable to deadly diseases of all kinds. So many of these people don't know if they will have anything to eat today, or if they can feed their children. Fathers often can't provide for their children, and can't send them to school. Women often can't read and can't get any pre-natal care during pregnancy. Celebrating on birthdays or holidays with festivities or gift-giving, is often unthinkable. Precious children start out with hopes and dreams, which their harsh circumstances soon cruelly crush to hopelessness. That is, if many even survive. Many children don't even live to see their 5th birthday. As most of us know but feel uncomfortable thinking about, many of these children die of starvation before them. God tells us, "If you have the world's goods but do not give to those in need, how does the love of God dwell in you?" Indeed, how can it?

How Can Child Sponsorship Combat World Poverty?

When we sponsor individual children, this allows relief workers to focus on a sponsored child's physical, social, emotional, and developmental needs. The child gets an education and is motivated and empowered to become a responsible and contributing member of his or her community and giving back far more than has been poured into them. Child sponsorship also helps the child's family and entire community as child sponsorship nonprofits serve their sponsored children's families and communities. When we sponsor a child, he or she is given hope, help and knows that they are cared for. This empowers them to much better development and their families are given hope in knowing that often tremendous struggles to provide for their own child are being assisted by others who also care. The family and community of the sponsored child also get help as an extension of the help being provided to the sponsored child. Reaching out in love to a child in this way is a wonderful way of showing a child and his or her family that someone truly cares.

What Is So Special About Compassion International Child Sponsorship?

We all know that there are many child sponsorship nonprofits, and you no doubt have seen many TV and Internet ads appealing to you to sponsor a child, with displays a pictures of individual children and contact information for the nonprofit. Aside from the sad fact that funds donated to too many of these nonprofits may be mismanaged and that many of them may not even reach those children, many seem to focus mostly on basic physical needs. That is better than no help for these suffering children. Compassion International is unsurpassed not only in their financial ethics and accountability, in my opinion, they focus on the complete development of their sponsored children: physical, social, material, emotional and spiritual. As Christians who want to see the world won for Christ, it's especially important that Compassion works hard to bring the truth and love of Christ to children, families, and communities. Compassion also serves the child's family and whole community. You can sponsor a child in Jesus' Name! If you feel moved to share your love with a child in need at this time of year and give a gift that gives all year long, I encourage you to consider Compassion child sponsorship. If you simply are curious about this or want to spread the word, visit here.

The above images are courtesy of Compassion International.

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