Bob Pierce was one of the few people in history who could raise money by encouraging potential donors to give to someone else, as demonstrated in this radio message from Christmas 1958.
My father did not see his radio broadcast as a marketing tool. He viewed it as an extension of his evangelistic and teaching ministry — a means by which Christians in the United States and Canada could learn about the reality of life for people who lived in a world of physical poverty and spiritual darkness they could not imagine.
He would often challenge his listeners to “Pray, give, and go,” but he but he usually pointed away from himself and to the direction of a missionary, church, or emergency need that needed to be met. For this very reason, pastors from every denomination began including World Vision in their yearly missions budgets, and World Vision sponsorship became a staple in churches across the country.
But most of all, Dad encouraged believers in Jesus Christ to save their best and most precious gifts — their hearts, time, and talents — for the One who gave it all for us.
My little Marilee came to me last night with her Christmas list. She is 8, and she had written down 10 or 12 things she would like to find under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning: a sweater, a Monopoly game. Oh, there were many things, and her daddy wants to give them all to her.
But my mind instantly turned to the fact that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. And I wonder, how many people this Christmas will remember to give Him a gift? In the midst of all the lists we make and the presents we buy, I want to ask you bluntly, friend, have you prepared a gift for Jesus? Should not the best gift — the most important gift — be given to the Savior? It’s His birthday.
All over the world there are helpless, hopeless, lost people whom God loves who will never experience a day when they have what we are so blessed to have — not just on Christmas, but every day of the year. Is it not true that Christ calls us to remember the refugee, the sick, the fatherless, the widow? And above all, the unreached millions of the earth for whom Christ died?
When my family and friends give me something at Christmastime, it warms my heart, because it shows me that they thought of me. But there are always a few gifts that mean the most because the giver has taken special care to give me exactly what I need. Their gift fits my personal passion and taste, and I know they have taken great thought in the choosing.
I want to ask you a question. Is the gift you, as a Christian, are giving to your Lord and Master this Christmas a thoughtless one? Is it one that requires no analysis of the heart of Christ? Are you content to let it be impersonal — the dropping of an extra coin into the collection plate?
I believe that Christmastime is when the Church ought to make its greatest and most thoughtful offerings for the millions of the earth who bear the unbearable and suffer the insufferable and faint in frustration because the centuries roll by and no light, no hope, no peace has yet been shed by the Christmas star into the darkness of their homes and hearts.
And I am asking on the broadcast today, not that you give to World Vision, but that you do something for the missionary your church has sent 10,000 miles away to work in a jungle or desert or revolution-ridden land. Do something for the child who has gone to bed every night of his life with the gnaw of hunger in his belly. Give the richest gift, the biggest gift — the gift that costs you something — where Jesus would be most encouraged and overjoyed to see you lay it. Lay it where the need is greatest. Give your gift to missions.
Our Gift Catalog is full of wonderful “gifts” you can give in the name of friends and relatives who do not need a new tie or box of chocolate. Or perhaps God would move your heart to sponsor a child, or give a gift to help dig a well, or feed the hungry in the new year. There is no gift too small that God cannot use it to make a big difference.
I want to end by sharing something that our World Vision International president, Kevin Jenkins, said in a recent staff meeting. For me it was a wonderful reminder that the reason we serve the poor has not changed.
“When I walk through one of the crowded refugee camps that World Vision is supporting,” Kevin shared, “and I sit down with a Syrian family living in a tent with only the bare minimum needed to survive, I cannot tell them that it’s all going to be okay tomorrow. That would be giving them false hope. But I can give them Christ. And I can walk beside them through the hard time.”
Pray for World Vision this Christmas as our staff around the world (pictured above) walk beside the poor and share the hope that only Christ can bring.