Christmas is the time when Christians celebrate, above all else, the greatest gift that could ever be given. So, while we prepare to enjoy the festive season – especially without lockdowns! – we should also consider how we can imitate our Heavenly Father’s generosity in sending his Son and be as generous as we can to those who need it.
Not everyone is able to give in financial terms, and that’s okay – there are other ways you can be generous that will care for people and support gospel work around the world. Gift options are also available for those who just want to “pick and click”, so there’s really no excuse when you can do it without leaving your desk!
What to choose
It’s well known that there is a range of gifts to choose from at Christmas through Compassion and Tearfund, but the variety might surprise you. And whether you choose a packet of seeds ($5) or turn a month of coffee money into a goat ($45), bibles ($20 each), disability access ($30) or clean water ($70), it will all go where it’s needed.
You could also band together with friends or your whole church for bigger projects. Household cow, anyone? Business start-up? Maybe a new toilet block?
Tearfund Australia’s head of communications, Greg Hewson, says that “while Australia begins to emerge from the pandemic, for many of the most vulnerable communities we fund... the rate of vaccination is so low that COVID is still rampant. Giving to these communities is incredibly life-giving.
“All our projects are linked with local Christian agencies, extending God’s grace through love in action.”
A consequence of COVID’s Delta strain in Australia is that it has sent Anglicare’s annual Toys ’n’ Tucker appeal online for the first time.
The food and financial assistance program manager for Anglicare Sydney, Nathan Moulds, says the team wrangled for months over the problem of how to make Toys ’n’ Tucker safe for staff, volunteers and clients – including whether it was possible to run the program at all. “We decided that no matter what the situation... we didn’t want people who are in need of toys and food and that encouragement and care at Christmas time [to go without],” he says.
There were difficulties with the standard model of people purchasing and packing gifts and donated hamper items, staff collecting these from around the Diocese and clients coming in to Anglicare to pick them up. So, the decision was made to utilise the delivery system the organisation has put in place since the pandemic began.
“We’ve delivered more than 7500 COVID food boxes over the past 18 months to people who are in need, isolating or infected,” Mr Moulds says. “We know how to do it safely and can do it very confidently... so we’re going to get [hampers and gifts] out to people, right to their doors.”
What is more, the gifts and food people donate funds for on the Toys ’n’ Tucker website will be purchased at wholesale prices, making each donation stretch further. “We know it’s not quite the same as going out and getting it yourself... but the need is still there, and it’s all been designed so we can share the joy but in a way that’s as safe as possible.”
Prayer and encouragement
This year the Church Missionary Society is holding a “message of encouragement” challenge, asking members and friends to consider how they can encourage missionaries with whom they or their church are linked.
Whether it’s a short message to let them know you are praying for them, asking about points in their latest newsletter, or a verse of Scripture that’s been on your heart, your simple care can help more than you know.
Jim and Tanja French, serving in Spain, note that “cross-cultural mission work is stressful. Feelings of not belonging are strong. “We draw great comfort from knowing that we belong to the family of God. where every Christian is a brother or sister walking alongside us. When we receive emails and letters from our supporters this reality is made concrete.”
All these organisations crave the prayers of the saints, so while some of us might not be able to offer any financial support this year, we can be generous with our prayers for those who serve and care for others in Jesus’ name.
Find gift information, care or prayer points at
African Enterprise: https://africanenterprise.com.au
Anglican Aid: www.anglicanaid.org.au
Anglicare: https://toysntucker.org.au – a range of resources are available to download
CMS: cms.org.au/message-of-encouragement – this web page goes live on December 2
Christmas Bowl: https://christmasbowl.actforpeace.org.au – includes resources for Advent
Compassion: www.compassion.com.au – click on “Gifts of Compassion”