Christmas is a joyous time. It is accompanied by Christmas trees, Christmas carols, Christmas gifts, etc. Yet, we can get so caught-up in consumerism, that we become stressed and not focused on Jesus at that time. Many people (over 2 billion) have not had the opportunity to hear of Christ’s first coming for even one time in their lives. There is a long history of giving gifts to the poor, starting with St. Nicholas (not to be confused with Santa Claus). In the present, there are different organizations that seek to help the poor during Christmas time and throughout the year.
Consumerism During Christmas Time
Christmas 2015 was supposed to be high. According to estimates by the Gallup Poll taken before the Christmas season began, $830 was supposed to be the average amount an American was going to spend on Christmas gifts. While Christmas should be the most joyful time of the year, many people get stressed by trying to find the perfect gift. It’s not that gift giving is bad, but as Christians, we are called to be different. Also, while we get into all the festivities of Christmas, there are billions who have never heard of Jesus’s first coming. It’s time that we remember these forgotten people.
St. Nicholas is not to be confused with the American Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was born in 260 AD and was the Bishop of Myra. He would give gifts to the poor. One time, a rich family fell into poverty and the father needed to sell his daughter into prostitution in order to make money. When St. Nicholas found out about it, he wanted to help them, but he wanted to keep it anonymous, so he wouldn’t receive praise. To do this, St. Nicholas snuck into the house of the poor family during the night and put a sack of money on the fireplace. The father woke up the next morning and found the money on the fireplace. He wept with joy and blessed the Lord for his gift.
Operation Christmas Child
One excellent way to give to the poor during Christmas time, is through Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. The concept is that Americans shop for a child in another country who have never gotten a Christmas gift. They place these items in a shoebox and ship them to the child, wherever he or see might live. This can change their lives forever; knowing that someone cares for them. In addition to getting Christmas gifts, children get books about Christ’s life, death and resurrection, so they can have the opportunity to hear of Christ’s love. During distribution, children learn songs such as “Jesus Loves Me.” One child (he was 12 years old at the time), Kojo remembered that song throughout his life after trusting in Jesus even though he does not remember most songs he learns. One of the toys Kojo received in the shoebox was a yo-yo. Although he does not have any of the toys anymore, Kojo knows he still has Jesus in his heart.
Gospel for Asia
Each year, Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported missionaries distribute animals and practical tools to those in need across Asia. At gift distribution times throughout the year, missionaries share Christ’s love with the people. One gift recipient was Ruphasi, who has a family of four. With both Vasanti’s (Ruphasi’s mom) and Rupashi’s hard labor jobs, there was still almost no income to take care of their family. Ruphasi learned how to sew from a government-sponsored class-but Ruphasi had a problem; she didn’t have a sewing machine. So, she started to pray for one. She started going to prayer meetings at church, where the believers lifted up her need for the Lord. Five years later, at a Christmas gift distribution, Ruphasi’s prayers were answered. She was given a sewing machine. With the sewing machine, she was able to make enough money in order to take care of her family.
Not only does earning an income help with providing for the family, but it also helps provide an education for children and the opportunity for whole families to hear of Christ’s love for them. These gift distributions do not only go on during Christmas time, but all through the year.
Giving to Poor During Christmas Time
Even though consumerism often overtakes the Christmas season in America, there’s a way to combat this. Through the work of Operation Christmas Child and Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported missionaries, many are getting Christmas gifts for the first time and having the opportunity to hear the Good News for the first time in their lives.
 World Atlas. “How Much Will the Average American Spend on Christmas?” http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-much-will-the-average-american-spend-on-christmas.html
 St. Nicholas Center. “Gift Giving.” http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/gift-giving/
 Operation Christmas Child. “Kojo and a Yo-yo.” https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/shoebox-stories-kojo-and-a-yo-yo/
 Gospel for Asia. “After Five Years of Watching.” http://gospelforasia-reports.org/2016/06/five-years-watching/