THE POWER OF GENEROSITY
It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). This truth is never more relevant than at Christmas time. Shoppers comb through malls in search of the perfect gift for their loved ones, and families collect canned beans and soup for local food banks. As we reflect on the wonder of God’s gift to the world – hope of salvation through a babe born in a manager – we are encouraged to give in ways that transform lives. In this issue of World at Your Door, we invite you to find meaningful ways to give this Christmas and experience the power of generosity.
What’s in it for me?
When asked to give of our time or resources, it’s tempting to look inward – we wonder how our acts of kindness will ultimately benefit us. In this Advent reflection, Ann-Margret Hovsepian of Temple Baptist Church in Montreal encourages us to serve others with a generous heart.
What’s in it for me? This question can creep in when I’m about to make a decision or commitment. How much does this assignment pay? What will I have to give up if I take on that responsibility at church? How will responding to that friend’s needs drain me? How difficult will it be to make that change in my life?
These are normal questions and yet they work against the transformation God wants to bring about in my soul. He wants to make me more like him and that means replacing my selfishness and pride with the kind of love that does not wait for the other person to somehow earn it. One way to keep God’s commands is to choose to love at any cost, just as Jesus Christ did when He gave up the glory of heaven to walk on this earth and then gave up His life to give us eternal life.
A better question to ask is: Who am I in Christ? If I am God’s child, made in His image and called to obey Him, then I must love those He brings into my life, whether or not there is ultimately any benefit to me. With Christ living in me, that burden becomes a privilege!
– This reflect appeared in the 2017 Canadian Baptist Advent Reader.
5 Ways to Make $100 Count
This year, the CBM Christmas Gift Match Challenge encourages Canadian Baptists to give $100 to those in need around the world. A generous CBM donor has offered to match all donations (up to $20,000) made through this challenge, which means your donation will double in impact. Donations must be sent by December 31, 2017, to qualify for the match.
Here’s how your gift of $100 could change a life this Christmas:
1. You could supply clean water for a Somali refugee family in Kenya. A simple water filter can help families prevent disease (particularly in children and infants), improve sanitation and empower girls and women who spend the majority of their day collecting water from distant sources.
2. You could give hope and a better future to a prison kid in Bolivia. A child whose parent is in prison carries deep shame and stigma. Some children drop out of school to help support their families. Provide educational support, nutritious meals, as well as medical, spiritual and emotional care.
3. You could extend the witness of a local church in the Global South. Local churches all over the world act as salt and light in broken communities. They minister with scarce resources in unimaginable circumstances such as conflict, disease and poverty. Your support helps them to effectively reach people with the good news of Jesus.
4. You could give someone access to medication for a longer and healthier life. Last year, 43% of new HIV infections occurred in eastern and southern Africa. However, having HIV is no longer a death sentence if you have access to antiretroviral medication.
5. You could feed a Syrian refugee family for one month in Lebanon. There are millions of Syrian refugees who are still struggling to rebuild their lives in Lebanon. A monthly box of food staples ensures a family will receive adequate nutrition.
Remember to respond by December 31, 2017, to qualify for the match!
Strength in Numbers
This year, the congregants of Kentville United Baptist Church in Nova Scotia experienced the power of generosity through working together. Karen Illsley, a congregant at the church, shares how a bottle drive fundraiser transformed the way they give.
Each year, we receive the CBM Hopeful Gifts for Change catalogue. A few years ago, our Missions Board decided to encourage people in the congregation to honour their friends and family at Christmas by buying a gift from the catalogue for someone in a developing country.
This year, we decided that the church could buy a gift together. To raise the money needed, we held a bottle drive – there is a five-cent refund on all beverage containers (except milk) in Nova Scotia. We promoted the idea during the children’s time in the church service and in the bulletin. People were asked to bring their bottles and cans to the Sunday service or to the church parking lot on the following Saturday morning.
The idea was a big success – people loved the idea of doing something tangible. This year, the Mission Board chose to buy “A Cow in Canada” for $500 because it’s a gift that keeps on giving. We learned from the catalogue that every calf that the cow produces will be sold, and the proceeds will be donated to CBM food projects through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
The bottle drive became a multi-generational project: Children brought their bottles to Adventure Club. The Ladies Auxiliary saved apple juice cans from church functions and funerals. One lady likes to walk – everywhere she goes she picks up cans and saves the money – she brought in $100! The youth group went door to door asking for bottles and cans, so now people in our neighbourhood know about our fundraiser. There was even an anonymous donation of $100 left in an envelope under the windshield wipers of the pastor’s car!
While we waited for the results the following week, there was a question buzzing around the church: “Did we get the cow?” I am happy to say that with $677 we not only have enough money for a cow, but also eight hens, four roosters and lots of vegetable seed packs, too.
Good News for Rohingya Refugees
This month, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced that Canadians donated $12.5 million – which the federal government will match – to help Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar.
In October, the federal government publicized that it would match private donations made between August 25 and November 28 to registered charities supporting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Of the total amount donated by Canadians, $1.1 million was donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and its members, with $276,000 donated directly to the Foodgrains Bank.
Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, more food and life-sustaining resources will reach Rohingya refugees in need.