This is the fifth part in our series “5 Ideas For Cultivating Generous Kids This Christmas”. Click here to read the introduction to this series.
#5 Be a generous global citizen
Love it or hate it, you will hear the Band Aid hit “Do they know it’s Christmas?” a lot over the next few weeks. While it’s true to say that some of the lyrics are unhelpful or even untrue generalisations, nevertheless the song is still powerful. It’s a jarring experience to sing the harrowing words while wearing a Christmas jumper and dancing around a house crowded with wrapping paper, new possessions and a feast of food.
We’re surrounded by plenty and yet we’re singing the words:
“But say a prayer for the other ones
It’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?
Here’s to you, raise a glass for ev’ryone
Here’s to them, underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again”
It’s uncomfortable. It’s incongruous. It’s at odds with the festivities of the moment.
That’s the desired effect.
Then there’s a call to donate. A call to turn that guilt into something helpful. To give out of our abundance in the West and to help someone in need in the developing world.
It’s probably been a fairly effective means of getting people to donate at Christmastime over the years.
We’d like to suggest that the Gospel is an even better motivator for giving to the poor at Christmas.
You see the Bible is packed full of commands to care for the needy – not simply because it’s the right thing to do in a broken and unjust world (although it most certainly is!) but because all Christians were lost, were poor, were vulnerable and were oppressed. Yet God who is rich in love rescued us from our poverty and made us abundantly rich in Christ.
There are too many verses to quote and biblical stories to recount which demonstrate God’s unwavering compassion towards the poor and destitute. If you are looking for a book which will help you get your teeth into this topic then try Generous Justice* by Tim Keller.
But suffice to say, Jesus was the most extraordinarily generous and compassionate man. Any glance at any page of any gospel will show you his commitment to the poor and needy. He self-sacrificially poured himself out in his healing and teaching ministry, but ultimately he gave up his very blood to heal the brokenness of the entire world.
So let’s try and encourage our children to think about the needs of the poor, and to think globally about this. Poverty, war, natural disasters, persecution of Christians, human trafficking and disease are horrendous realities of life in our world; the people caught up in these atrocities are very close to God’s heart. There is no easy way to talk to our children about them, and yet it’s essential that we do. In an age-appropriate way, let’s make our children aware that they are in a privileged position and that they can and should bless others who are in desperate situations.
Lots of charities are doing Christmas appeals. Unicef, Tearfund and Christian Aid are all doing Christmas appeals where you can quickly and simply donate money online. There are options for all budgets, from a £3 blanket to keep a Syrian child warm through winter, to £47 to provide shelter and counselling for a child rescued from trafficking, to £100 for food, mattresses and hygiene kits for a displaced family. Lots of these websites have images of what you are purchasing and the pictures of the types of people who will be receiving your help. Perhaps sit with your child and look at the information on the website together. It might help them visualize who they are giving to and what a difference it will make.
Depending on the how sensitive your child is, this may be very hard for them to think about. Encourage them that Jesus cares deeply for these people, that he died to bring all the sadness in the world to an end, and that one day he will be coming back to make everything perfect.
I see a sparkling city shimmering in the sky: glittering, glowing – coming down! From heaven. And from the sky. Heaven is coming down to earth! And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying. Because all those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see – I have wiped away every tear from every eye!”And then a deep beautiful voice that sounded like thunder in the sky says, “Look! I am making everything new!”