God is an incredibly generous giver! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
God loves the world, the whole world! Therefore, He gives of Himself; He gives sacrificially. We serve a God who gives generously in ways that have transformed — and continue to transform — the whole world.
That is good news, and we can certainly all nod our heads to that. Where it becomes mind-boggling is that God loves Flossey who is struggling to make ends meet in Uganda, ThyVenn who is planting churches in Cambodia, Jennifer who just needs a loving and safe home in Colombia, and Ildikó who is preventing trafficking in Hungary.
When God gives, He doesn’t simply send money. He doesn’t give old clothes. God meets us at a much deeper level. God is incarnational. God is relational. God is holistic.
We want to be Christlike, so as we give, let’s consider how we give. When we buy gifts and when we make donations, let’s ask ourselves:
• Who made this?
• Were they paid fairly?
• Who gets this donation?
• What is done with it?
We’ve all bought Girl Scout cookies. Maybe it’s because we knew that the girls selling cookies were getting a portion of the proceeds. Maybe we bought them because we wanted to help give those girls opportunities. We might have even bought cookies because we hoped those girls would grow up to transform the world in some way. Or maybe we simply bought them because we love Thin Mints.
I’ve been with SEED Livelihood Network long enough to know that we buy gifts for all of those reasons. Sometimes something is simply delightful. Sometimes we choose what we buy because of who made it. Sometimes we donate because we are longing to see the world transformed.
There are also times when we simply buy what’s in front of us. Sometimes we donate to whatever charity has the most appealing email we’ve seen lately. Sometimes we buy whatever is easy or available lastminute. I’m as last-minute as they come, but let me encourage all of us: Let’s stop and look at what our buying and donating is feeding into.
When we buy gifts from many big-box stores, the proceeds go to large corporations and large factories that may or may not pass a fair amount of the proceeds on to the people who actually made them. When we donate, do we know who ends up with the funds? Are we entrusting it to big business charities, or are we entrusting it to local churches who are ministering, boots on the ground, to their communities?
We work hard for our money; let’s work a little bit harder at making sure it’s going where we want. It only takes a little work to make sure more of our money is going to actually helping people in holistic ways.
There is a fantastic book that many of us in Free Methodist World Missions, International Child Care Ministries (ICCM), SEED and Set Free would love for you to read with us. It’s called “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … or Yourself.” It can introduce you to this idea of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD).
The key ABCD-related idea that we love is that every single person is made in the image of God, every person has great value, and every person can be a blessing to others. Even since before His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12), God’s plan includes God blessing His people to be a blessing to all nations.
Because of this, and for so many other compelling reasons, SEED, ICCM and Set Free work through local churches. We don’t sit in the United States and pretend that we can effectively minister day in and day out to people around the world; we partner with local churches who do! The local church, active in local communities around the world, is the best way to transform communities. We are honored to partner with these churches around the world.
So, this Christmas season, as you look at what to buy and where to donate, we encourage you to give generously to help spread God’s love holistically around the world.
Rose Brewer is a Free Methodist elder who serves as the co-director of the SEED Livelihood Network. She is the primary contact for SEED’s partner livelihood groups who create handicrafts.
ICCM & SEED Giving Guide
SEED Livelihood Network
International Child Care Ministries
Set Free Movement
One of the easiest ways to give generously and fairly is to purchase fair trade coffee for yourself and as gifts. God is so good to all of us coffee lovers. You can get some of the best coffee in the universe from Camano Island Coffee Roaster while helping to support the Set Free Movement.1