Beyond our annual tithe, we give an annual Christmas gift to charity. The first year we were married, we filled a box for Operation Christmas Child. This is where you fill a shoe box with small toys and necessities for a poor child in another country. It is a nice program, and one Dan and I thought would be fun to continue with our children.
Our second Christmas together, though, we found a charity that we agree with so whole-heartedly that we give to it as our Christmas gift now, and are strong advocates for it.
Gospel for Asia is an Asian mission agency that sends people in Asia to be missionaries to Asia. This often has more of an impact over sending missionaries from America to third world countries, where the American missionaries often continue to live an American lifestyle, instead of taking on the lifestyle of the native people.
For my non-religious readers, Gospel for Asia does a lot more than typical mission work. They have an amazing livestock program. You can give a pair of chickens or rabbits for $11, a pig for $55, a goat for $60, a lamb for $130, a cow for $375, and a water buffalo for $460. Among many other options including a donation to their medical program, you can give a blanket for $5 or a biosand water filter for $30. These go to needy families and needy communities.
This is something we try to get our church involved in as well. A children's Sunday school class could raise enough money to give a pair of chickens. That pair could produce a flock of chickens that could lay up to forty dozen eggs a year. That makes a huge difference to a truly needy family.
A Sunday school class could also raise money for a Bible for $3, a musical instrument for a missionary for $5, or materials for Vacation Bible School to be taught to children on the other side of the world for $5. This does not need to be limited to Christmas time giving only, but could be incorporated throughout the year, a pair of animals given while you teach on Noah's ark, and raising money for Vacation Bible School during Vacation Bible School over the summer.
We have been giving a bike to a missionary each year for $105. A missionary on foot uses much of their time travelling. A bike makes a big difference on how many people can be reached. We have money set aside for this gift this year.
Another option that I saw this year was something for the "Untouchable" caste in India. It is a child hope pack that allows a child of the "Untouchable" caste to go to school. For $50, "your gift helps provide school uniforms, books, tutoring and help with homework, at least one nutritious meal each day and a yearly medical checkup."
One thing I love about Gospel for Asia is that whether you have a little or a lot to give, you can know you are making a difference. There is really so much they are doing to help both physically and spiritually. I would encourage people to go to their website and poke around a bit. They have a bunch of free downloads of books, video, audio and more books, so even if you have nothing to give to them, they can still be edifying to you, as they have been to me.
With Gospel for Asia, "one hundred percent of all contributions designated for use on the mission field are sent to the mission field."