He’s fourteen. Some say fourteen-year-olds are caught up in themselves. Well, Luke isn’t. He’s different.
I met him at an orphan conference.
“He said he wants to do something meaningful.” His mom tells me as I sit next to her, us hearing how most foster kids come into care with a t-shirt, maybe some underwear….little more.
And most of us see a need, feel sorry, and then offer up good thoughts; or at best, a little prayer. But not Luke; Luke did more than sit by with passive sympathy, inactive compassion.
Luke took action while others kids his age were scanning ads on the internet, or making lists of all their wants from Santa Claus.
He called the foster organization, inquiring of them what their needs are. Then, he decided to create drop boxes at four different locations, asking for specific items needed for foster kids coming into care in our region. He made a flyer. And nearing Christmas, he will distribute the donations to this same organization caring for foster kids this season.
And as a missional woman, I find it hard to leap as boldly as this fourteen-year-old young man. Often the older we get, the more we can toy with, weigh, and contemplate “what” or “how” to give.
But let’s face it, sometimes I think God just wants us to leap, see a need and meet it as simply and as beautifully as Luke did.
And I wonder if we lose sight of the pure giving of Christmas, because our gifts are offered tainted; giving things so we feel good about ourselves; validating hidden insecurities, offering presents in exchange for acceptance, projecting generosity when our hearts reflect otherwise.
Yet Jesus, our example, modeled selfless sacrifice, giving it all without seeking reward.
He gave fish abundantly, healing unconditionally, offering taxes willingly, loving freely. He gave His time specifically, foot-washing His enemy, grace and forgiveness to those who betrayed Him, shouting, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”
And I think the thing we forget about giving, during our mindlessly chaotic purchasing at Christmas time, is that Jesus gave freely most to those who could offer the least.
He gave His life to a people, whose payment for His death could never be repaid or earned.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to fill up Luke’s box, giving both locally and internationally to those with real need, so that I might reflect the heart of our giving God.
I still remember the Christmas we bought a well for those overseas. At the time it was a sacrifice, but not once did we regret it, and to this day it’s the one gift meaning more than all the Christmas gifts ever given.
Is there a way God is calling you to give your time, your resources, your listening ear, your compassion, your concern for others this season?
I open Luke’s flyer again after returning home from the conference. “Need’s List” stares strong at me from the page: Socks, shoes, pajamas, comb, shampoo, etc.
Yes this year, I refuse to mindlessly fill some shopping cart at Walmart, in a Christmas rush, pretending somehow mass made products, and plastic toys can equal love when a desperate world is looking to us to show them God.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.