Christmas, with its gift giving is a natural time to talk about God’s gift to us in Christ Jesus. Its a natural time to talk about how God came to us in order to give us something we desperately needed, and something we could never get on our own. Christmas is overflowing with the Gospel message.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:14-16
God is a missionary God, who came and dwelt among us, and because he did so through Jesus, His Son, we are able to experience grace upon grace. His grace never exhausts itself out. It is abundant in its care, love, self-sacrifice, and resources for us. Yet, God intends for the grace upon grace that is given to us to be given to others THROUGH us!
So in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas, shopping, and Christmas lists, let us take the opportunity to teach our children that God gave us the greatest gift not just for our benefit, but to be given away to others. We are to be missionaries just like our Heavenly Father.
I ran across this story and these ideas (at http://www.teachthemdiligently.net/blog/ttd-convention/208-missionmindedchristmas) by Ann Dunagan that I thought were encouraging helps for families like ours to emphasize the importance to our children of giving ourselves so that others may hear the Gospel. When we do this, we exhibit the very character and nature of our Savior. Merry Christmas!
A Christmas Story from Liberia, AFRICA
“I Gave Myself”
It was Christmas, and the Liberian Christians had been asked this year instead of receiving gifts, to help carry the Gospel to others.
As in many mission fields, they brought, not money, but produce. Presently, the great plates were piled high with offerings of rice, cocoa, bananas, palm nuts, pineapple, and cassava.
There was a moment’s pause . . .
Slowly, a twelve-year-old boy walked forward and solemnly placed his feet in one of the plates. Afterward, when the missionary questioned him, the boy said . . .
“We are very poor. I did not have anything else to give . . . so I gave myself.”
Giving gifts is wonderful and God wants us to give resources, but most of all He wants us to give ourselves.
A few MISSION-MINDED baby-steps
Here are a few baby-steps to begin to incorporate a mission-mindset into your family’s yearly Christmas celebrations.
- Incorporate a GLOBE into your Christmas celebrations. Perhaps use this to bring a mission theme into a corner of your living room or family room. Add some garland and lights, or place a mini-nativity beside this globe (or map), as you encourage your children that Jesus came to earth to be the Savior for ALL people.
- Be THANKFUL you’ve heard GOD’S GOOD NEWS. If your Christmas decorations are looking a bit old and shabby, and you’re wondering about using them another year, remember over 1.6 billion people around the world have yet to hear the Christmas story . . . for the first time!
- READ a MISSION STORY. Read aloud a Mission-Minded Christmas story such as this story, “I Gave Myself.”
- PLAN a FAMILY MISSION PROJECT. Plan a specific family giving project for Christmas. Perhaps put a coin jar under your tree and begin saving coins for a specific mission need.
As mission-minded families, if we really want God’s direction in every area of our lives, we need to begin by surrendering ALL of our “rights” to God. Perhaps during a time of family Christmas carols, include a chorus of I Surrender All.
All to Jesus, I surrender.
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him.
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all. I surrender all.
All to Thee, My Blessed Savior.
I surrender all.
This Christmas, I invite you to seek God’s purposes for your family. Don’t just think about giving presents, think about giving YOURSELF!
Contributed by Ann Dunagan, Harvest Ministries
Learn more about the Dunagans and their ministry at http://harvestministry.org/ You will also want to check out their Missions Minded Resources for your family and homeschool!
Ann Dunagan and her daughter Christi will be presenting a number of challenging and helpful workshops at Teach Them Diligently Convention that you will not want to miss. Her books and resources have had a profound impact on my family, and I am confident that you will find them helpful as well.