Are you a last minute shopper? Judging from the crowds in the stores and the never-ending ads on TV and radio, you have plenty of company. Usually, I’ve almost finished my Christmas shopping by now—at least for the “easy” people on my list. But it’s the proverbial problem—what do you get for the person who has everything?
It’s astounding that we can even ask that question, really. After all, how many people in the history of the world literally have everything they need and most of what they want? And how can I, with my strictly budgeted gift fund, possibly get them whatever they might lack?
The real eye-opener came earlier this year when, at my family’s request, I tried to make my own wish list for Christmas and my December birthday. It was hard. Aside from a few minor wants (certainly not needs!), I couldn’t think of anything. I finally wrote down a couple of CDs I would enjoy, some books I’d like to read, and a list of ways I’d like to spend time with each person. Then, at the top of my list, I wrote “chickens.”
Chickens. That raised a few eyebrows—not because chickens are an odd thing to want for Christmas, but because we already have chickens. Ten hens out in our chicken coop keep us (and some friends) in freshly laid eggs, provide manure for my garden, and offer motherly counseling services for bad days. (There’s nothing like contented clucking to make you feel better when you’re down.)
When I was Uganda, a little girl presented me with the gift of a live chicken. From her perspective, there was no greater gift that she could give me than a live chicken. Of course, I accepted the gift with much gratitude, knowing there was no chance that I was going to be able to take the chicken home with me. With the chicken tucked in the back of one of the World Vision vans, we left the little girl’s hut. We decided that we would take the chicken and offer it as a gift to a woman–a grandmother who was raising four grandchildren (the children’s father and mother had both died of HIV). I wish you could have witnessed the joy and excitement when one of the team members presented the grandmother with the chicken. She lifted her hands in the air and screamed with joy at the top of her lungs. You would have thought we’d given her a check for a large sum of money. But it wasn’t a check. It was just a chicken.
Last year I recommended three lesser-known ministries that would greatly benefit from a Christmas donation. One of them was Partners International. Harvest of Hope is their gift catalog, where you can give things such as clean water, student desks, medical care, and yes, chickens to needy families in the name of Christ. As an added bonus, you don’t even need to leave your computer, and there are no delays or shipping charges.
It occurred to me that Jesus certainly qualifies as the man who has everything, yet whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Him. That seems very appropriate, given that His is the birthday that we’re celebrating!