Fruitfully Living

A Better Way to Christmas Shop

Every Christmas, the average American spends $800. The profits from those sales will mostly benefit the shareholders, executives, and owners of those companies. Although many of these companies do make donations to charities, it is usually a tiny fraction of their earnings. I am not against corporate wealth, but I am saddened by the amount of money that goes towards fueling our own materialism and how little goes towards giving. I am saddened by the amount of wealth at the top and how little of it is given willingly to those at the bottom. I think most of us would scowl at corporate greed, but how many of us are going to take personal responsibility for how we contribute to it?

I have been reading my Bible cover to cover, and I am struck by the number of times the poor, widows, and orphans are mentioned. Failure to take care of those three groups of people is included in the reasons for Israel’s demise in the Old Testament. I have come to the realization that Biblically, God has put a lot of the responsibility on taking care of the less fortunate on us, both materially and spiritually. Galatians 5:14 tell us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. I love the way Katie Davis from Amazima puts it, “Myself doesn’t want to be starving so I don’t want other people in the world to be starving.”  James 2:15 was even more eye-opening for me.

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

There is a lot more to this than just meeting a need. There is a spiritual component to it as well. I have learned a lot from Christian ministries that give to the poor. By meeting a physical need, it opens a door to speak about Christ. It shows kindness and love and people then become hungry for the spiritual food that you can provide. It is a wonderful way to bring people to Christ.

As a family we have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. We have been making an effort to separate what we want from what we need. I personally have been really convicted to not give from the left overs after I get what I want, but to give up what I want so that others may have what they need. This Christmas will provide a wonderful opportunity for our family to put Christ’s love into action. Do our kids really need all those toys? How can I teach my kids that the money I spend on that toy can be used to feed a child somewhere else? How can I spend what God has given me more wisely and more fruitfully?  One of those ways (in addition to buying less so I have more to give) is to buy from organizations and companies that give. Wouldn’t I rather have the money I spend to buy a Christmas gift also be used to help people in need or to spread the message of Christ? Will you join me in my efforts?

To help you and help me shop more fruitfully, I have put together this list below. All of these companies, churches, and organizations are cheerful givers and use their earnings to help in a wide variety of ministries. If you have other organizations or companies that you would recommend, please pass it along. Let’s make this Christmas a time to bless others and to live more fruitfully!!

Women at Risk  Their products are hand-crafted by or sold in support of at-risk women (and even some at-risk men) in their partnering programs in over 40 countries, including the United States. You can also host a Women at Risk selling party in support of their ministry.

Family Christian  All of their earnings go to Christian charities. They offer a wide variety of items.

Mission Lazarus  The Mission Lazarus social enterprise program exists to empower local Hondurans, to teach them artisan skills and teach them how to maintain a sustainable business in an effort to advance their overall education.  Know someone that loves coffee? Give them the gift of coffee. 100% of the earnings from coffee goes to help support the operations of Mission Lazarus Refuge Honduras.

Eternal Threads  Eternal Threads is dedicated to improving the lives of women and children most at risk of extreme poverty, trafficking and other forms of exploitation by providing sustainable livelihoods through income generating projects.  Through Eternal Threads you can also host a “Gathering Sale.”  They send you inventory, and you sell it to benefit women and children in poverty.

Amazima Organization Your purchase will help provide women a sustainable livelihood so that they do not have to resort to other means. It will also help put children through school.

Hobby Lobby — They have been in the news lately and have been attacked for taking a stance on certain Christian values. However, what I was surprised to find out is that half of Hobby Lobby’s total pretax earnings is committed directly to a portfolio of evangelical ministries. Some of the other companies that are praised for being big “givers” actually only donate about 10%.

And also consider shopping from local and small businesses. And if you must shop from big named stores, I would urge going through Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile gives a small portion of their earnings to any charity of your choosing. It is pretty easy to set up and is one way that I support my favorite ministries.

Happy Shopping!

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