By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
Christmas, for many, is a fun time of the year, and if you believe Andy Williams, it is the most wonderful time of the year. However, it is not that way for everyone. For those who have lost loved ones, those who may be single or lonely, or those who cannot afford to provide gifts for their children, Christmas can be a miserable time of the year. Because of this, it presents an opportunity for you as a Christian to look for ways to serve your community and share the gospel. Christmas can be turned into a wonderful time of the year, and all it takes is a little thought and imagination while putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Here are five ways to serve your community and share the gospel at Christmas:
1. Seek out the lonely.
If you look around your community or your circle of people you know, it is probably not that hard to find people who are lonely. Lonely people come in all varieties. In my own life, there are friends of mine who recently lost their spouse, and for them, the holidays become extremely difficult. For others, they may be new to the area and don’t know anyone. There are those who are single with no children or elderly people with no immediate family in the area. My point is there are lots of people who may be lonely all around you. All you need to do is open your eyes and look for them. Here is a simple way to serve your community and share the gospel at Christmas with these people. Invite them to dinner with your family. This might require you to put yourself out on a limb, but I am sure when you do it, you will be serving them and setting a great example for your household. It’s possible some of these people may be unable or uncomfortable leaving their house, especially if they are older, so in this case, you can bring food and gifts to them for Christmas. If they allow you, then sit with them and spend a little time with them. You may never know how much impact that may have on their life and their holiday season.
2. Seek out the hungry.
Today there are still people in our world who go hungry. You would think in a country like America, with the abundance of resources available that, people would always have food to eat, but unfortunately, that is simply not true. To serve your community in this fashion at Christmas, it may take a little more research because we often don’t know who is hungry. The simplest way to meet the need would be to give money to organizations that feed the hungry like a food bank or food pantry but why not take it a step further? You can also serve the community by either packing the boxes or helping to distribute the food at the location. By doing this, you are taking your faith and putting it into practice. By the way, giving someone a meal is a great way to serve your community and share the gospel at Christmas or any time of the year.
3. Seek out the poor.
Christmas is a time of giving and receiving gifts. As a parent, the real excitement for me is no longer receiving gifts but watching my daughter open her gifts and seeing her reactions to the gifts she has received. As we sometimes do, you can easily forget there are families who don’t have the resources to provide gifts for their children. These families are in your churches and all throughout your community. Finding those families may require you to connect with your local non-profit or charity. A simple google search with the term “local nonprofits near me” is all it takes. When you see the list reach out to them and ask if they have families in need of help with Christmas gifts. Most of these organizations know of at least one family, and probably more you would be able to serve in this fashion. When a family is identified, they set out to buy gifts for them. Not only is this a great way to serve your community and share the gospel at Christmas, but it can also be a great way to show your children the importance of giving. I fully believe this will be a great lesson and a great blessing for you and your family.
4. Seek out the sick.
How often do you think about those who are sick around Christmas? There are people unable to spend the holidays with anyone because they are sick, in the hospital, or maybe in a nursing home. Being in this condition, whether you are the patient or the caregiver, can be a very isolating experience. Depending on the severity of the illness, both the patient and the caregiver often feel shut off from the rest of the world. Life may be going on for other people, but for those in this situation, it feels like time has stood still or is passing them by. A great way to serve the community in this capacity could be by visiting the local nursing home. Obviously, this will take some coordination with the nursing home staff, but it’s a way to show the love of Christ. If you have some musical ability, you can go and sing Christmas Carols with them. Maybe you can bring a group of young people to sit and read with them or play board games. Whatever you do can remind them you care about them and they still have value.
5. Seek out the prisoner.
Lastly, I want to focus on those who are in prison. For those who are imprisoned, there is no Christmas to look forward to so one way you can give them one is by sending a Christmas card. Imagine the difference a simple card with a handwritten note and the message of the gospel in it can have on an inmate. These people are separated from family, so anyone who would take the time to remember them could have a great impact in their life. There are organizations that do this type of ministry, and if your church has a prison ministry, you could probably work with them as well.
When you think about Christmas, it is about giving. God gave the greatest gift to us, and we should do the same in turn. So often, we think sharing the gospel is just telling the message and moving on. While that may be part of it, the real message of the gospel is not just told but demonstrated. We shouldn’t just talk about God’s love; let’s show people God’s love. When we do this, we are letting people know they matter, and this could be just the thing that moves their hearts toward following Jesus. Finally, if you think these ideas are any good, they are not my own, I got them from Jesus, and I think he knows a thing or two about Christmas and giving.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” – Matthew 25:35-36
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/franckreporter
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
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