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Thursday, 29 November 2012



What does your family do to emphasize giving and charity? For many families, this topic is especially common during the holiday season that we're in.

Money should be a regular discussion for a Christ-centered family. After all, money was Jesus #2 topic (after judgment / hell) that we have recorded in the Gospels, as it relates to one's trust in God (or lack of it). Therefore, it stands to reason that money is also an important topic as we disciple our children.

Commonly-Used Charities

Operation Christmas Child (i.e., Christmas shoeboxes) is a popular charitable program used by many families and churches this time of the year. We have done this in the past, and I'm sure many of you have, too.

What about an "Adopt-A-Child" program, where individuals or families can help provide Christmas presents for an underprivileged family? We have sponsored children through such initiatives. However, we must be careful that we don't foster paternalism by extending the period of "emergency relief" (lessons I'm learning about in When Helping Hurts).

This year (as we have done a few times in the past), we made a donation to a program that provides sustainable help to for a family in an emerging country. As opposed to the one-time help provided through Operation Christmas Child and Adopt-A-Child, these gifts can be part of "a gift that keeps on giving."

Through World Vision, our family chose gifts that would help families in developing countries. A variety of sustainable (livestock, seeds, fruit trees, etc) and one-time (clothes, medicines, mosquito nets, etc) gifts can be selected from.

Each of our kids picked items, and when we tallied up our list, it was a little more than what we had budgeted. But our children immediately and gladly suggested that they could chip in more from their own piggy banks. My heart could not have been more pleased.

A Change for Us

We did make one big change this year -- we stopped our monthly support through Compassion International. I began supporting a child through this organization almost 14 years ago, when I was a graduate student at Furman. Since I began, I think we supported 4 different children over that time.

Continuing this support, including the regular correspondence with our "Compassion child," has been a great model for our children of how we can use our resources to love others that we have never met and probably never will.

The child we've been supporting for the past few years recently left the program. We thought this might be a good time to take a break, and to evaluate how we want to use our resources going forward. (We will not reduce our monthly giving, but simply reallocate. As I explained in My Radical To-Do List, I felt that God was directing us to give at least 10% of our income, even though most of our income is itself from donations.)

Other Options

If you are looking for other ways to make a year-end contribution, I'd like to suggest three of my favorite missionaries that could use your support:
  1. Us, The Espinosa Family. I thought of putting myself last on this list, but knew that would be due to false humility.
  2. The Osborn Family. We feel so strongly about their mission that we support them monthly.
  3. The Doster Family.  Another family we know that is soon to enter the mission field.
"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."  Luke 6:38

What will your family do this year for end-of-the-year giving?

Whatever you choose, be sure to use the decision as an intentional discipleship opportunity with your children.

Related Links:
  **image courtesy of CarbonNYC via flickr

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