International (MNN) — Remember the story of our executive director's 13-year-old adopted daughter who wanted to make sure everyone in her Russian orphanage got a Christmas present?
Or, how about the 14-year-old adopted girl who wanted to raise enough money to provide a million chickens to Asia? It seems there are many stories that surface involving young people aiming at lofty goals in order to respond to overwhelming needs.
A recent World Vision 30-Hour Famine study said less than one in ten parents describe teenagers as "generous." 54% describe teens as "selfish," but the online survey conducted by Harris Interactive revealed a different picture when teens described themselves.
More than half of the teens who participated in the survey said that because of the current economic climate, they're more aware of the needs of others. Almost nine out of ten teens want to do more to help those in need.
Gospel For Asia President KP Yohannan says, "We underestimate the ability of our children to understand. I think our children are so tenderhearted that once they understand, they will respond."
What's more, encouraging that kind of response creates an understanding of how big the world is. It is that understanding that kids communicate to others when they get behind a cause. "Children, they are very transparent," says Yohannan, "and I think that we should let them have an opportunity to do this kind of thing. That way, they understand there is a real world out there."
It's a real world with real needs–and real death if those needs aren't met. The stakes are higher yet, because there are over 2.7 billion people who have yet to be introduced to Christ. This is the perfect time of year to harness some of that youthful energy to the telling of the Good News. Yohannan explains, "Christmas is one season of the year that people all over the world–Hindus, Muslims–know this has something to do with Christ and Christianity."
So while there may still be some opposition, the message of hope is expected. That also opens another door, according to Yohannan. "We take this opportunity, this celebration, by going to poor communities, helpless people in the slums, and bringing gifts of all kinds ."
What kinds of gifts? "For some families, it may be a buffalo. In some places, a sewing machine. In other places, a bicycle," says Yohannan. GFA brings "all kinds of help in the name of Jesus during the Christmas season, and we give with the aim to see a break in the cycle of poverty."
When is the last time you bought and shipped a buffalo to a total stranger? How would you even know who needs a buffalo? Yohannan says the GFA "Christmas catalog is what we put together for the body of Christ." It helps "churches in Western countries, where people can actually share the Christmas story by showing compassion and kindness, giving this kind of help to the poor families and individuals in all of these countries."
How are chickens, rabbits, and goats a display of Christ's compassion? It's simple. When a family receives one of these items, they're blessed with the income the animal provides. Smaller animals reproduce quickly, and their offspring can be sold. Larger animals can plow a field or pull a cart. Yohannan notes that through this program, "Every year we bring help to somewhere around 150,000 families in India, Nepal, Burma, (and) Bhutan."
Through national missionaries, Gospel for Asia shares the love of Christ. These men and women missionaries are trained up in Bible colleges to share the hope found in Christ. After training, they go out to the unreached people of South Asia, in the nations they serve, and share the love of God. GFA also ministers to children through its Bridge of Hope program, providing education, quality meals, and a loving environment to over 60,000 children in South Asia.
That's the connection to the catalog. The local church knows its community. They understand needs. When other Christians come alongside and begin supplying equipment, livestock, or tools, the local church can deliver them,and continue the relationship being built through their other programs. "From that," says Yohannan, "revolution starts in our family, in our community. I think we can change the world."
Check our Featured Links Section for a link to the GFA Christmas catalog.