Decrease holiday stress by simplifying, being missions-minded in your giving

By Janet Erwin
The Alabama Baptist

Creating new holiday experiences with my family is high on my list and Christmas is a great time to be missions-minded in one’s giving — both in time and gifts.

If your family has time to give consider blessing others in some way. A few years ago my mother was spending her first Christmas in an assisted living facility almost a two-hour drive from my home. With the distance factor and her health issues our family decided to take Christmas to her and the other residents of the facility. 

I prearranged with the facility director to present a program for any who wanted to participate. My son, Trey, plays the guitar and he and my husband, Monte, sing. They began by singing and leading us in Christmas carols while my younger son, Trent, interspersed the songs with portions of the Bible story from The Message Bible. 

Monte shared the story behind “Silent Night” and Trey (who had been studying German for four years and was a summer missionary there the previous summer) sang the song in German. 

I opened the picture book, “The Legend of the Candy Cane” and read the story while turning the pages for all to see. I also brought materials for the residents to craft candy canes out of pipe cleaners and beads. We assisted those who couldn’t see well or whose hands were too arthritic to complete their candy canes. Then we distributed store-bought candy canes as a treat. We encouraged the men and women to share one of their candy cane treats with another resident who didn’t attend and to tell that person the Christmas story.

While our family’s Christmas Day was different that year, God used us to bring a Christmas experience that focused on Jesus to these dear people. Perhaps your family or small group could engage in something similar this Christmas. 

Purpose-filled gifts

Or maybe your time is limited but you still have lots of gifts to purchase for your family, co-workers or small groups. Consider giving gifts with a missions purpose. That’s what I did last year for family stocking stuffers. I picked up a gift catalog from Baptist Global Response (BGR) and began planning.

As I turned the pages packed with photos and stories illustrating ways for my gift giving to meet global needs while at the same time introducing people in other cultures to Jesus, I began to match projects and items with family members. 

For my 9-month-old granddaughter I chose infant formula. I selected a blanket for refugee relief as a reminder of the time my husband had assisted in blanket distribution to refugees in Albania. My younger son has a heart for rescuing people from human trafficking and I discovered I could connect with his passion by providing a safe place for a day. I continued until everyone was matched with a gift for people all over the world. 

How to get started

To get started, download the BGR catalog at gobgr.org/gift-catalog or call 866-974-5623 and request one be mailed to you. 

To emphasize the gift aspect of each follow these steps after making selections:

1. Download and complete the BGR gift catalog order form and send your payment.

2. Cut out the descriptions of the gifts. 

3. Tape or glue each description onto an index card.

4. On the other side of the index card, write the reason for the gift choice on behalf of the family member. On my granddaughter’s card, I wrote: Meredith, I chose this gift of baby formula with you in mind. I know your mommy and daddy feed you well each day but some children in our world go hungry. This gift will help another baby like you survive.

5. Designate a special stocking or gift box to store the cards in.

6. Select a family member (consider a child old enough to read) to pull out the cards one by one and distribute them to the recipient. 

7. Listen as each person reads aloud about his or her gift.

8. Pray for the global recipients of these gifts.

Begin with Christmas gifts and then expand your catalog gift giving to birthdays, holiday gifts, Vacation Bible School offerings or missions projects for small groups.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What are some creative ways you and your family share the good news at Christmas? Share your stories with us at news@thealabamabaptist.org.