International (MNN) — If you walk into a store right now in the United States, you see evidence of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all mishmashed together.
The retail creep on the buying seasons for gift-giving opportunities is so prevalent that people are starting to look for more meaningful alternatives.
One of those alternatives is charity gift catalogs. The items shown in these catalogs give shoppers the chance to buy a sheep for a family or to educate a girl instead of buying a Cuisinart or an iPhone. Gift catalogs are attractive because they’re almost always “gifts in action.” People want to see exactly how their gift will effect change.
Far Corners Missions President Gary Bishop explains that that desire for connection is normal. “One of the questions people ask is, ‘What’s the greatest gift that’s ever been given?’ People say, ‘It’s life itself, it’s (one thing or another).’ But I think all believers would agree that the greatest gift that’s ever been given is Jesus.”
When put into that context, sharing that gift becomes part of a mandate because it’s all about the Gospel. “It’s the same thing that Jesus would do: loving and caring for people. That’s what the Giving Book does. It gives people the chance to do a specific thing for [people] on the other side of the world that have no way to provide for themselves, to give them an important gift.”
Through national partners, Far Corners is able to resource nine different countries: China, England, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, and Thailand. Bishop uses India as an example of what a difference a single gift can make. “You can give a Telagu Bible to somebody in India for $4. But you can also give them a water buffalo, and that costs $1300.” Or for $6, someone could ensure that a daycare child gets meals for a month. Bishop observes, “If we go to McDonald’s, we would spend almost $6 per person. You can feed a daycare child in India for a whole month for that $6. Or for $6, you can give a widow a 5kg bag of rice.”
From health care to job training to spiritual equipping, Far Corners has a variety of ways to immediately impact lives. “Other people pass by them every day and don’t concern themselves with them, or would do anything to avoid contact with these people. And so their very natural question is, ‘Why are doing this for us?'” That question allows the local believer to turn the discussion to the hope of Christ. “That gives us the great opportunity to say, ‘It is only because of Jesus’ love,’ and that allows us to tell them the story of Jesus.”
The community at large sees transformation through feeding programs, medical outreaches, rescue operations, and educational programs, along with evangelical activities like church plants and pastoral training. It all goes toward investing in relationships, both now and in the future. “They know that the Church in India is the conduit through which all that comes to them. That’s really what we want them to know: God’s Church in India is responsible for getting that help to them.”