In my December 17, 2016 column, “Three Churches, Three Approaches to Christmas”, published in Alaska Dispatch News, I mentioned Baxter Road Bible Church’s annual giving campaign in December. Unbelievably, they donate 100% of church income to charitable causes in our community, causes suggested by individual members. Their theme is “It’s not your birthday, it’s Jesus'”. (see http://www.churchvisits.com/2016/12/three-churches-three-approaches-to-christmas/)
This congregation walks the talk, and unbelievably gave over $102,000 in December! I’ve been privileged to become acquainted with some of the members of this dedicated church community. They give out of their love for God and their fellow man. A few members might not even want me to mention their giving in the event this practice might be mistaken for being a prideful act. Clearly they lead by example and their example has been a personal inspiration.
Coincidentally, the same day I visited BRBC in December, I also visited Anchorage Baptist Temple. Unbelievably, Pastor Prevo made an earnest appeal before his sermon for a coming “Christmas Miracle Offering”, to be distributed to staff of ABT, Anchorage Christian Schools, and their missionaries.
Some churches might take up a special offering in December for the poor or local projects of concern such as various non-profits. I thank God for churches like BRBC which remind me that Christmas is the time to emulate the gift given to us in the form of Jesus.
In his wonderful book, “Christmas is Not Your Birthday”, Pastor Mike Slaughter reminds us, “At Christmas, we celebrate a messiah, a deliverer, who was born to die. So, we too are called to give ourselves sacrificially with Christ for the world that God loves. More for him and less for us. Such sacrifice is paradoxical because the more of ourselves that we give away, the more abundant our faith and our contentment will be with what we have. In our culture of consumption, this is a countercultural way to live. Living on less when we could have more and giving away more when it means having less is a frightening proposition to many people. It is not easy, and there will be naysayers, but this sacrifice is what Jesus truly desires of those who would follow him.
Since 2004, Ginghamsburg Church and local partners have raised $8.3 million to provide humanitarian help for Darfur with their Christmas Miracle Offering. (see http://ginghamsburg.org/serve/ways-to-serve/christmas-miracle-offering)
I didn’t read a single word or hear a single TV story about Darfur during the Christmas season just passed. Makes you think doesn’t it?