“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'” Matthew 25:34-40
This is the season of gift giving, and everyone comes to family gatherings prepared to give and receive. It is fun seeing your nephew’s face light up when he opens the new video game you gave him. And who wouldn’t love getting that cute pair of boots you have been eyeing but never would buy for yourself?
But have you ever desired to give (or get) a more meaningful gift? The type of gift that won’t be lost or forgotten by February — a gift that is significant. A gift that proclaims the reason and purpose of Christmas. Maybe I am old fashioned, but that sounds like what gifting at Christmas was always intended to be.
I struggle to remember that expensive does not always equal meaningful, and one Christmas gift from years ago always reminds me just how significant small gifts can really be.
As I opened a gift box wrapped from my parents on Christmas Eve, I found a blue paper gift certificate. Thinking it would be a gift for a day at the spa or a clue for a scavenger hunt to find my real gift (my prankster mother loves to make it hard on us), instead I found writing that said, “Because of the donation in your name, a child in Haiti will be able to attend school for an entire year.”
I had more than I needed, and a little girl was able to go to school (a privilege and luxury in her culture), and have hope for a future without poverty because of a simple and small donation that my parents made in my name. It was humbling and thrilling and one of the best gifts I have ever received.
As Christians in a first-world society, it is easy to get caught up in the materialism of Christmas. (Black Thursday, anyone?) While all of us can certainly appreciate gift cards to The Cheesecake Factory, it is nice to know that we can choose to go a little deeper with our gifting.
So if you are looking for something a little different, more Christ-centered, or meaningful this Christmas, let’s not forget those that Jesus called “the least of these” — the poor, the hurting, the widowed, and the orphan. Let’s remember that even buying Christmas gifts can be an act of worship. Let’s not forget those closest to the heart of God, and that when we give to one of these, we give directly to Jesus Himself.
With that in mind, TFP has teamed up with One Vision International, a mission organization based in Knoxville, TN, to create a unique way to give the love of Christ in a practical, yet beautiful, way this Christmas. (To check out the amazing work of OVI and all about their mission here.)
OVI put together a list of gifts you can give in the name of the loved one you are shopping for. For example, $40 can pay for a woman from the Dominican Republic to get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a women’s conference. A gift of $50 can provide clean water for a family in Brazil. Even a gift of $5 or $10 can contribute to the most needed items, like medical supplies in natural disasters (similar to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti), basic everyday needs, or even a plane ticket for a sick child to visit a hospital. No amount of money goes to waste — and the money goes much farther than you could imagine.
By giving to those who have less, you are not only meeting a physical need but also a spiritual need by offering hope. What an honor it is for your loved one whose gift is a chance to be used by God to bless someone else in some of the farthest and seemingly forgotten corners of the earth.
Interested in giving a gift like this? Download this gift certificate to present to your loved one(s), and fill out this form to mail in your donation!
Also, if you prefer a more “tangible” gift and are in the Knoxville area, head over to One Vision’s office (you can find them here) to shop through its sale (December 16 & 17 9am-5pm) of handmade Christmas ornaments from women in the Dominican Republic, aprons, crocheted items, and vi Bella jewelry, scarves, and ornaments made from women around the world.
So if you are looking for something a little different to give this year, remember you have an opportunity to give a gift that, regardless of your finances, will bless someone daily and eternally. May Jesus be glorified in every part of Christmas, including how we give.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
*photos courtesy of One Vision International