Forget the Chia Pet: Gifts That Make a Difference

This Christmas, you could give your friends and family members another Snuggie or Chia Pet, OR you could give them gifts that are truly worth giving. Below, you’ll find a list of gift ideas that will not only bless your loved ones, but will also help change the lives of people around the world.

Hope you enjoy!

Handmade Necklaces from Amazima Ministries

When Katie Davis began reaching out to women in Uganda, she soon discovered that many were turning to prostitution or alcohol brewing to earn income simply because they thought they had no other options. Now through Amazima Ministry’s vocational program, Katie has provided a group of Ugandan women with the opportunity to support their families by making beaded jewelry.  

Watch a video of the Amazima ladies hand-crafting their jewelry HERE.

You can help keep these women employed and support the outreach of Amazima Ministries by purchasing this beautiful multi-colored Mosaic

Hearts for Hearts Girls

For the little girls in your life, you might want to consider a Hearts for Hearts Girls doll. Each 18″ doll comes with a unique story about life in her country. You can choose from Lilian (Belarus), Rahel (Ethiopia), Nahji (India), Tipi (Laos), Consuelo (Mexico), and Dell (United States).

World Vision receives a portion of the proceeds from every purchase to support girls in the same country that the doll represents. I know one special little girl who already has Rahel from Ethiopia awaiting her arrival.😉

Hearts for Hearts Girls are available in stores like Wal-Mart, but Joseph and I found they were even less inexpensive through Amazon.

Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog

You can shop Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog online to choose from a wide array of gifts that save lives around the world. For example, with $9 you can feed a baby for a week, for $15 you can cover a child’s school tuition for one month, or for $35 you can help train and equip evangelists to reach the people of their countries.

Giving through Samaritan’s Purse each Christmas is a wonderful tradition to establish with your children to help open their eyes to the needs of the world around them. 

Samaritan’s Purse has special greeting cards that you can use to inform your loved ones about the life-saving gifts you’ve given in their honor.

Shop the catalog and make your donations HERE.

Artwork by Joni Eareckson Tada

Although paralyzed from the shoulders down, Joni doesn’t allow her disability to keep her from pursuing her passion for art. Using only her teeth to hold her pencils or paintbrushes, she creates lovely drawings and paintings like this… 

You can purchase art prints, Joni’s Christmas cards, or her 2012 daily planner

The proceeds from the sale of Joni’s artwork support Joni and Friends, a ministry devoted to changing the lives of those with physical disabilities both in the U.S. and around the world.

Compassion International Catalog

Similar to Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International also produces a special Christmas catalog where you can choose from a variety of gifts that change the lives of children and their families around the world. You can notify your friends or family members of the gifts you’ve given in their honor by having a professionally printed card mailed to them, or by sending them an e-card.

How often do you have the chance to give away a pig at Christmas time?:)

Shop the Compassion Catalog HERE.

And while you’re thinking about Compassion, why not consider sponsoring a child as a family this year?

Gifts from Jubilee Campaign

In Mumbai, India, Jubilee Campaign is working to free women and children from the horrors of the sex trade. Jubilee Campaign helped construct four homes where young women can live in safety, free from the danger of forced prostitution. The mothers of these young women create jewelry and leather goods to support themselves and their daughters.

100% of donations go directly to the work of Jubilee Campaign’s partner, Bombay Teen Challenge. Shop HERE.

There you have it—a few ideas for gifts that will make a significant difference in the lives of others. You’re going to give, so why not make your giving count?

Giving Them a Reason to Believe

“…God loves a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9:7b

Does your giving give the world a reason to believe?

Francis Chan provides some challenging and convicting thoughts regarding the importance of Christian generosity…

Such a great quote from Amy Carmichael: “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” 

Photo: Svilen Milev

Help Save Lives in the Horn of Africa

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed.”

Proverbs 19:17

When our alarm clock went off one morning last week, I awoke to a news story detailing the horrific crisis going on in the Horn of Africa. As I lay there with tears in my eyes listening to graphic descriptions of the starvation and brutality being experienced by millions, I marveled that I had been entirely unaware that such a disaster was taking place.

Samaritan’s Purse reports:

Famine-like conditions are threatening the lives of some 12 million people in drought-stricken Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. United Nations experts estimate that tens of thousands of people have already died from starvation and related diseases, and the UN is calling the crisis “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.”

From World Vision…

Please pray that God will have mercy on the people of Africa and send much-needed rain, food, and medical care. 

Please consider being a part of the answer to that prayer by giving generously to trusted ministries like Samaritan’s Purse or World Vision that are providing relief in the Horn of Africa in the name of Jesus Christ.

Photo: Samaritan’s Purse

Pray for the People of Joplin

If your Memorial Day was anything like mine, you probably spent the day with loved ones remembering all the blessings God has given. But for a large number of people in the U.S. this past weekend, the focus was not so much on what had been given as on what was taken away.

Franklin Graham reports on the relief efforts of Samaritan’s Purse in Joplin, Missouri, where the single deadliest tornado in recorded U.S. history struck on May 22…

Donate to Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts HERE.

Helping the Hurting in Japan

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”

James 2:16

In the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami, many of us are greatly burdened for the people who are suffering in Japan. The Japanese certainly do need our prayers at this time, but they also need more than that. They need our generosity.

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, people are waiting in 5 hour lines to receive food, and the supplies are scarce. Please consider donating to ministries like Samaritan’s Purse that have people on the ground providing emergency assistance to those who are cold, hurting, and hungry.

These two videos describe how Samaritan’s Purse is making a vital difference in Japan…

Donate to Samaritan’s Purse HERE.

Photo: Samaritan’s Purse

God’s Will for your Wealth

“…give me neither poverty nor riches…”

Proverbs 30:8

Does God want you rich, poor, or somewhere in between? In his latest sermon from the book of Luke, Pastor Mark Driscoll addresses the confusion over wealth that exists within the church and provides some helpful clarification from the Scriptures.

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt

Kids on Commission

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage,
But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”

Proverbs 21:5

In this clip from his Financial Peace University series, Dave Ramsey offers some wise advice on teaching children the value of a dollar.

If you don’t do it, who will?

You can learn more about the program Dave Ramsey mentioned, Financial Peace Jr. for Kids, HERE.

I’d be interested to hear your ideas on how parents can teach children to handle money wisely. How have you dealt with this topic in your home? 

Photo: David Siqueira

Directing Our Dollars to Those in Need

“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty
and you gave me no drink…”

Matthew 25:42

Do you ever wonder how it would feel to be incredibly wealthy? There’s no need to wonder; you already know.

Sobering reminders from the Christian Alliance for Orphans…

Unbelievable statistics, aren’t they? We spend as much money on diet programs in America as it would take to feed every starving person on the planet. Wow.

Learn about sharing your riches with others through Compassion International’s Infant Survival Program.

Video: Christian Alliance for Orphans
Photo: M Nota

Gifts Greeted with Gratitude

One of the big bummers for me around Christmas time these days is seeing children who already own far too much stuff tear into the beautifully wrapped packages of brand new stuff awaiting them on Christmas morning. Living in a materially wealthy society such as ours, it can be pretty tough to impress kids with your gift-giving. I’ve watched children move greedily from one newly opened gift to the next in rapid-fire succession as though they were sure something better had to be hidden somewhere in that pile. Somehow, the blessing of giving just doesn’t feel quite as real at that moment as it does when the one receiving reacts a little more like this… 

When you take part in Operation Christmas Child, you can be sure that even the simplest of gifts will be received with joy and gratitude.

National Collection Week is November 15-22. Please plan on being a part of blessing needy children around the world this Christmas.

You can learn how to pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox and print out instructions and labels HERE.

Find the nearest Shoebox Drop-Off Location in your area HEREor you can send your shoebox year-round to Samaritan’s Purse headquarters:

Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan’s Purse
P.O. Box 3000
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

Photo: Samaritan’s Purse

Will You Give This Christmas Away?

“…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Acts 20:35

Christmas is in the air! Well, it is for those of us preparing for Operation Christmas Child anyway. If you’ve never participated in this terrific project, this year is your year. Operation Christmas Child provides you and your family with a terrific opportunity to remember that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive as you prepare a simple shoebox full of gifts that a child on the other side of the world will never forget.

Matthew West and Amy Grant team up in this video to encourage us to “Give This Christmas Away.” I love watching the video footage of children receiving their shoeboxes. If you take part in OCC, you could be the reason for one of these precious smiles! 

National Collection Week is coming soon–November 15-22. Please plan on being a part of blessing needy children around the world this Christmas.

You can learn how to pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox and print out instructions and labels HERE.

Find the nearest Shoebox Drop-Off Location in your area HEREor you can send your shoebox year-round to Samaritan’s Purse headquarters:

Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan’s Purse
P.O. Box 3000
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

Photo: Samaritan’s Purse

Betraying Christ for New Floors

“But if we walk in the light,as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

Teaching from 1 John 1 at the recent 9Marks at Southeastern Conference, Matt Chandler explains that God often ordains certain circumstances in our lives to reveal idolatry hidden deep within our hearts.  Once these sins are exposed, he says, “You now have the opportunity to confess, repent, and grow into Jesus Christ, or ignore, dismiss, and begin what I believe is a slow drift away from Jesus Christ.” He then provides a humorous and powerful illustration of such an opportunity in his own life.    

Watch the entire video HERE.

Related Post: Matt Chandler Wrestles with the Text

Photo: Ramon Gonzalez