December 17, 2009
It's hard to ignore the cheerful tinkling of the Salvation Army bells at Christmastime—or not to drop a gift in the plate for the special foreign missions offering Christmas Eve.
But there's something about the Christmas season that awakens our generosity. After all, God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him as a gift that first Christmas, and how can we not likewise show generosity to others?
But this Christmas, Americans, worried about their finances, are clinging tighter than ever to their wallets. An AP news report recently revealed that while the same number of Americans are still giving to charity, they are giving far less. For many churches and non-profits, the report explains, "the need for their services is increasing at the same time donations are decreasing."
That's certainly something we understand at Prison Fellowship. Prisoners' families are struggling this Christmas especially. Many prisoners have reached out to us to help them care for their families this Christmas—by sending the love of Christ through a gift and the Gospel message to their children through Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program.
And this year, because times are so tough, we have 50,000 children who don't yet have a sponsor. You may have heard us on the air redoubling our efforts to insure that not one of these children is forgotten.
Because I've seen firsthand how much a gift like this can do to reconcile a family both to one another and to God, I'm not ashamed to boldly ask for your help even in such difficult times as these.
But as I do, I also want to make something clear. I'm not asking that your gifts to Angel Tree replace what you would normally tithe to your church or the gifts you normally give to other ministries. God calls us to tithe to our local church bodies—my wife Patty and I do it, and strongly believe it is the duty of every believer. And other ministries—like this radio station, for example—need your support as much as ever.
So what I ask you to do is to consider giving to Angel Tree this Christmas season, giving sacrificially—over and above what you normally give. I'm not afraid to ask that of you because that's what Christians have always done in the most difficult times. It's not that Christians somehow weathered storms like the Great Depression unscathed. Instead, they invited hungry neighbors to their table when they themselves were struggling. They did this because this is how Jesus taught us to live.
But through such hard times, God gives the Church a tremendous opportunity to show the culture what we value most and where our ultimate trust resides.
So even as I ask you to visit us online at AngelTree.org to sponsor a prisoner's child, I want to challenge you to make the most of the opportunity we have in these kinds of times.
As we give sacrificially, let's demonstrate to a watching world that there is a treasure that is dearer and better than anything this world treasures. It's the Lord Jesus Christ.
Treasure Him this Christmas by sharing your earthly treasure with those who need it most.