Reflecting on what Christmas has become, we hope this letter explains and expresses our hearts.
Traditionally my husband and I celebrate our family Christmas at my mom and dad’s place. We enjoy our family, a great big meal with amazing desserts, beautiful decorations, stacks of gifts (and gift cards), and hours of laughter. We talk and catch up, wearing our sparkly Christmas outfits, and tuck yet another year of Christmas cards into our bags ... and bags ... of gifts! We then get into our vehicles and drive back to our wonderful warm homes, most likely to do it all over again with another group of family members or within our own household. How wonderful and blessed we all are, lacking absolutely nothing.
About five years ago, my husband and I received an amazing gift from my brother and sister-in-law at Christmas. It was a small acrylic “goat” Christmas tree ornament, a very realistic looking goat on a small string. They explained the meaning of the goat and how it represented the monetary gifts they had donated to a charity that year on our behalf. A family somewhere in the world would now have milk and cheese to feed their family and others in their impoverished village, where water is scarce and disease is rampant. It brought tears to my eyes as they explained how this all worked. When my husband and I arrived back home that night, we hung the little goat on our Christmas tree. Somehow I felt as if I had participated in doing something big, bigger than me—bigger than my stack of gifts under the tree. A little goat staring back at me made my heart melt as I reflected on my family’s words and what this meant.
We asked them to make this the only kind of gift they would ever give us again for Christmas. Since then, we have received many Christmas tree ornaments representing various critical needs:
- a small glass jar with a spoon on a string—representing water
- a woven cross—representing Bibles and church support in a community
- a figurine of a man with tools in his hand—representing labour to help build homes
- a woven fabric chicken—representing chickens purchased for eggs and meat.
These gifts might seem insignificant or strange if you received them on their own. Someone might look at it and think it’s cheap or useless, but for the people who receive the donation, it’s very valuable—life-saving and life-changing for them. The little gift we see on our tree represents a precious eternal gift that God has given to us: the joy of giving to others.
The Bible tells us:
“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing ...” (Proverbs 28:27).
“... loose the chains of injustice … set the oppressed free … break every yoke … share your food with the hungry … provide shelter … [clothe] the naked …” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
“Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’ ” (Matthew 25:34-36, RSV).
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ ” (John 14:23).
Back in 2004, my husband and I began sponsoring children in Ethiopia through ERDO’s child sponsorship program, ChildCARE Plus. Our two oldest girls have now graduated from school and are out of the program, healthy and safe! The four younger ones are still with the program receiving medical help, education, food and resources.
We were so happy to learn that ERDO offers Christmas gifts and opportunities similar to the charity that my brother and sister-in-law support. So this Christmas, we are now sharing this gift with you. Eight families will receive goats and fowls for Christmas. We hope this touches your heart, as it did ours.
We all are so blessed to be sure of our next meal, clean water to drink, comfort and security in our homes, and surroundings that offer a multitude of modern conveniences. When we are needing something, by the grace of God, we all have an income and resources available to us in this country.
“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 moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:15-16).
We are so grateful for the time, health and the resources available to us. Reflecting on what Christmas has become, we hope this letter explains and expresses our hearts.
We love you and wish you all a Merry Christmas. May God richly bless you and your family this Christmas!
This letter was written by an ERDO supporter who wished to remain unnamed. To learn more about ERDO’s Christmas Gift Catalogue and to purchase a gift that makes a difference, visit: www.erdo.ca/giftcatalogue.
Image courtesy of ERDO. This article appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.