Sharing Christ’s Love With Shoebox Gifts

For many years my own family and my church family have participated in packing shoebox gifts to be distributed around the world by Samaritan’s Purse. It is that time of year again.

Shoeboxes to be sent to Samaritan’s Purse to distribute to children worldwide.

We will wrap shoeboxes or pick up the easy-to-identify green boxes with red lids at Christian book stores, Hobby Lobby’s, or Chick Fil A’s. Small toys, articles of clothing, school and craft supplies, and personal care items will be stuffed into each box. The boxes will be shipped to Samaritan’s Purse processing centers and then delivered to boys and girls by Samaritan’s Purse team members. For many of these children, the shoebox will be the first gift they have ever received.

Also packed into each box will be a booklet, The Greatest Gift, which tells the gospel story in the recipient’s own language. In this way, each child is introduced to the good news that Jesus died for their sins and rose again.

Sharing God’s love through shoebox gifts is a wonderful way to bless a child. These simple gifts remind, or inform, a child that God loves him and wants a relationship with him. They open the door for that child to be able to accept Jesus as his Savior and look forward to an eternity in Heaven. And that is truly the Greatest Gift of all.

I encourage everyone reading this to prayerfully participate in this ministry this year. Pray about whether you should pack a box for a boy or girl, pray for direction as you pack your box or boxes, and pray that the heart of each recipient will be open to the good news of the gospel.

Sharing Christ’s Love Through Christmas Generosity

At this time of year, most people are in a generous mood.  The Christmas spirit inspires us to share with those in need and we are bombarded with opportunities to give.  From the Salvation Army’s red kettles to Toys for Tots drop boxes to food drives, there are ample choices for everyone to give to those needs that are most dear to their hearts.  There are so many worthy charities that it is hard to decide which ones to support.  Each year I struggle to balance the desire to give to every great cause while staying within my budget. So I want to share some steps that have helped me in making these tough decisions.

1) Ask God for wisdom in determining which charities to support each year.  If we all followed God’s guidance with our giving, all the needs would be met.

2) Decide how much money you can afford to give and stick to your budget.  I once read a definition of debt as “misguided charity.”  Being overly generous can lead to financial difficulties just as surely as greed and selfish spending.

3) Support charities whose values line up with your own.  As a Christian, I support charities sponsored by Christian organizations.  While I recognize that the beneficiaries of charitable giving appreciate the assistance regardless of the source, I want to share the message of Christ’s love while blessing others.

The following are some of the charities that I have supported over the years.

1) Angel Tree–This ministry of Prison Fellowship provides gifts to children of prison inmates.  They desire to reconcile prisoners with their families by delivering gifts to the children in the name of the incarcerated parent.

2) Operation Christmas Child–A ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child has delivered nearly 100 million Christmas gifts in shoeboxes to children all over the world.  Each box contains materials that share Christ’s love and plan of salvation with the recipient.

3) Salvation Army–Through their red buckets and their Angel gifts, the Salvation Army blesses needy children and senior citizens.  The Salvation Army’s mission is to reach the lost, the last, and the least with the message of Christ’s love.

4) Toys for Tots–This toy drive is sponsored by the Marine Corps and Marine Corps reserves and provides toys to disadvantaged children.  The mission of Toys for Tots is to provide a message of hope that will assist children in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. 

5)  Food banks.  I donate to my church’s food ministry and our local food bank.  It’s hard to share Christ’s love with people who are hungry.  When we feed people, they know we care about them and it makes it easier for them to believe that Christ loves them.

That’s my list of favorite charitable organizations. What are some of yours?  What other ways to you share Christ’s love at Christmas?

Christmas celebrates the beginning of Christ’s earthly journey and the hope that He brought to the world.  As we give Christmas gifts to those less fortunate than us, we have an opportunity to share Christ’s love and the infinitely valuable gift He gave us when He left his home in Heaven to live among man and ultimately pay the price for our sins. Please pray and ask God to direct your giving this year.  If we all give as God leads us, many needs will be met and many lives will be changed.  The true message of Christmas is that Christ came to Earth to change lives.

 

“How Can I Help?”

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us.  Strength is for service, not status.  Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”  Romans 15:1-2 (The Message)

I came across this verse in my devotions yesterday.  In the New King James Version the verse read, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”

Of course, I’ve read this verse many times before as I’ve studied the book of Romans, but yesterday it really grabbed my attention.  I think it was “scruples” that popped out at me.  It seemed an odd word to be in the Bible, and in fact, the King James uses the word “infirmities.”  At any rate, my curiosity was piqued and I pulled out a few other translations to see how they put it.

These verses were a reminder to me that God commands His people to look around them to see how they can help their neighbors.  From the story of the Good Samaritan, I know that my neighbor is any person God puts in my path.  I need to be watchful for others who need a hand and offer mine.  The needs may be spiritual, emotional, physical, or financial.  God doesn’t expect me to solve everyone’s problems, but He does expect me to offer service to those He brings to my attention.

The popular Bible teacher Bruce Wilkinson (author of The Prayer of Jabez and The Dream Giver) personalizes this question to open doors of opportunity to help others without interferring where he is not wanted.  When he feels the Holy Spirit impressing upon him to offer assistance to someone, he approaches them and simply asks “How may I help you?”  It is direct and to the point.  Often the person’s first reaction is to deny needing his help.  When Bruce persists, they open up and share their problems.  Sometimes God directs Bruce to meet the need immediately by giving the person money; other times God direct Bruce to provide godly counsel; and occasionally Bruce simply prays for the person.  Bruce based his approach on the example of Elisha the prophet in the story of the Widow’s Oil (2 Kings 4:1 – 7).

The key to being of service to others is to be open to the nudge of the Holy Spirit that a person in your vicinity is in need and God is going to use you to help in the situation.   I urge you to pray that your heart will be attuned to the nudging of the Holy Spirit to assist someone in need today.  As you look around, ask “How can I help?”

If  God has directed you through the nudging of the Holy Spirit to recognize and assist to a person in need, please consider sharing your story as a means of encouraging others.