“But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7
Why is Christmas all about giving? Because we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—the gift of salvation given for all—the great gift of our Creator God. God saw our need, saw our desires, and planned the perfect gift for us; a gift we didn’t even realize we needed. Our gratitude for the gift of Jesus creates in us a natural response of giving. Here in our community, and around the world, there are people in need. People for whom your giving opens the door to a new life: a life of promise, hope, and a future. Just as when we serve others we are the hands and feet of Jesus, so when we give in His name, we are His hands and feet to the community and the world.
Several special opportunities for giving beyond your regular tithe to the general fund are described below. Bring a smile to the face of someone who needs the hope that only Jesus can give. To get involved with volunteering with any of these ministries, contact GetConnected.
ALTERNATIVE GIFT MARKET (AGM)
I’ll never forget the time my siblings and I went in together and bought my dad a goat for Christmas. No, we are not farmers. It was through an Alternative Gift Market at my sister’s church. I think we did it just so we could write, “A baby goat for our favorite old goat,” on the card. He loved it, and now our family has a tradition of giving donations in one another’s name at Christmas. We each have more than we need, and it’s always fun to see who pairs what gift with whom. Each gift in the Alternative Gift Market catalogue is inspired by the need of one of BelPres’ ministry partners here at home or around the world. You can purchase a goat in this year’s AGM to provide milk, manure, and offspring to sell and sustain a family in Africa. There’s a bundle called “The Word” that gets Bibles into the hands of young people in many of our partner areas. No matter who is on your list, from the old goats to the baby in diapers, there’s a gift for everyone. The Alternative Gift Market will be in the Lobby November 29 through December 20, and on the BelPres website through the end of the year.
CONGREGATIONS FOR THE HOMELESS (CFH)
When you serve meals—and hospitality—to the men of the Congregations for the Homeless shelter, you get to hear the stories of men like Tom. Tom was a stay at home dad with two young sons in 2004, but by 2012 he was addicted, divorced, and living on the streets of Bellevue. How he got sober, found a home, and full employment through the help of CFH is a great story. Each December Bellevue Presbyterian hosts the men of CFH. They stay every evening in the Upper Campus and enjoy a home-cooked meal, and make lunches for the next day, shower, wash clothes, enjoy time to visit and work with their case managers and employment coaches, and spend a warm restful night. While they are here you can make and serve a dinner, provide breakfast or lunch fixings, donate needed supplies, organize food and the kitchen, share downtime, or pray with and for our guests. You can give the gift of quality time and step into the lives of men on the path from homelessness to independence. Sign up in the Lobby or contact GetConnected
CHRISTMAS GIFT BOXES FOR MEN AND WOMEN EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
When it is Christmas, many people experiencing homelessness don’t have the experience of opening a present or receiving a gift of needed clothing or daily use items. Men in Bellevue staying at the CFH shelter or Emergency Winter Shelter have the opportunity to experience receiving a gift, two in fact, from their gift boxes. A tangible one in a box and a spiritual one from experiencing the love of Jesus through a stranger. Young women who are coming out of homelessness at New Horizons and R.E.S.T. (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) will receive a gift box of similar items specifically chosen to reflect the love of Jesus. Shopping with your family and filling and wrapping a box to deliver to one of these shelters offers a way of giving that affirms the dignity of each person and their value as created in the image of God. You can pick up a list of specific items for the gift boxes on November 15 and 22 in the Lobby. Please return your gifts on December 7 or 14 in the Lobby.
I have three children, and I’ve been eight years in Angel Tree. They have provided gifts for my children every year. The gifts they provided brought tears to my eyes because my first term, I wasn’t a Christian. And I didn’t have nothing. I was a drug addict. I was in prison. But Angel Tree opened the door for me.” –Terry, prisoner and parent.
Share the love and hope of Jesus with children and families by selecting a gift tag, or volunteering to deliver gifts. Jesus said, “I was in prison and you came to visit me,” (Matthew 25:36). Giving through Angel Tree touches lives of prisoners and their families. The Angel Tree will be in the Lobby November 15 and 22 for gift tag selection. Gifts can be dropped off on November 29 and December 6 in the Lobby.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD-CHRISTMAS SHOEBOXES
The Middle (youth group, grades 6-8) is partnering with Operation Christmas Child to collect Christmas Shoeboxes for overseas delivery. When our family was serving as missionaries in Indonesia, I was able to watch firsthand as the boys of our ministry to kids living on the streets received Christmas Shoeboxes. For every single child, it was the first Christmas gift they had ever received. What a powerful message for these children that there was someone out there who cared for them as their Heavenly Father cares for them. Pack a box and take part in this fun Christmas family tradition. Collection week is November 16-23. For more information, contact Mandy DuPar, firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING
The Christmas Joy Offering has been a Presbyterian tradition for almost 80 years. This year’s offering will be given to Eastside Academy to support their ministry with at-risk youth. Eastside Academy creates a Christian learning environment that helps the whole student, academically, socially, spiritually and physically. EA makes a difference in the lives of their students. Your gift to Christmas Joy will support the programs and care provided for these students. Look for the special envelopes at the Christmas Eve services.