Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. What’s next? Fire-sale Sunday? It seems like every year there’s a new “specially designated” day to promote Christmas spending.
I want to say something about the growing “Giving Tuesday” movement (yes, yet another new day, but this one with a higher purpose). It’s the philanthropic community’s response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is designed to provide people with a charitable day to consider giving as they go into the holiday season. (Learn more at www.givingtuesday.org.)
You can give to any ministry you choose. (In fact, we don’t turn down gifts at EPM!) But one of my favorite ministries is the JESUS Film project, which I’ve personally witnessed at work in powerful ways in China, Cambodia and Mexico. They’re one of the charitable partners participating in Giving Tuesday. If you are led to donate on December 3, then JESUS Film would be a great organization to consider. (In fact, if you wish, you can give through EPM and we’ll pass on 100% of the designated donations. Simply select the special fund “JESUS Film” at www.epm.org/donate.)
The Giving Tuesday project that JESUS Film will feature this year is the Mission 865 Project, which is their effort to translate the “JESUS” film for 865 people groups of 50,000 or more speakers; it will also have a challenge grant that will multiply the impact of the gifts given.
As the Advent Conspiracy movement shows, a growing number of believers are aware of the materialism in our Christmas celebrations and are choosing to celebrate differently. I’d encourage you and your family to consider ways that you can make this Christmas different, even if you still exchange presents, as our family does.
Many years ago when our then-missions-pastor Barry Arnold told our church about enslaved Christians in Sudan, family after family spontaneously decided to give to free the slaves. My family was among them, and it was a wonderful Christmas, made better by the knowledge that we’d given to what matters.
Shortly before he and his four friends were killed by the Auca Indians in their attempts to bring them the gospel, missionary Nate Saint wrote:
As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for these we have failed to bring out of darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes ofBethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.
David Bryant, author of In the Gap, asks, “Who wouldn’t like to end each day, putting our heads on our pillows, confidently saying, ‘I know this day my life has counted strategically for Christ’s global cause, especially for those currently beyond the reach of the gospel’?”
Whether or not you participate in “Giving Tuesday,” may this Christmas season focus on the person and work of Christ. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For we know the grace of Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich.”
Speaking of a gift, imagine one day on the New Earth, the warm voice of someone from a different culture, with a different color of skin, coming up to you, embracing you and whispering, “Thank you—through your giving you helped bring us the good news of Jesus.”