Students Seek ‘Servant Hearts’ at Christmas
Peter Bulthuis, Canadian Constituency Team leader for World Renew, spoke in mid-November to a class of sixth graders at Brantford (Ont.) Christian School about people who are facing hunger and poverty around the world.
As part of his presentation, Bulthuis also discussed this year’s World Renew Christmas Gift Catalogs – one containing gift ideas for purchase by adults, families, and churches (see U.S. and Canadian catalogs), and another specifically designed for children (Canada only).
“The gift catalogs have a whole lot of pluses,” said Bulthuis in an interview after his presentation. “It's an opportunity for people who don't know much about the work of World Renew to participate in justice, mercy, and serving Christ.”
“Also, when you give gifts featured in the catalogs, you not only have the chance to feel grateful about your giving this Christmas, but you're also opening someone up to learning about how all of us in God's big family across the world are connecting and how our decisions affect one another,” he said.
Through the catalogs, he explained, you have the option of buying a gift on behalf of someone on your Christmas list. You can also raise money as an organization or school to purchase items together – such as a goat, a family-sized water filter, or children’s books for a mobile library – to send to recipients elsewhere in the world.
Bulthuis made World Renew’s work and its ministry come alive for the students, said Jennifer Dreise, who teaches sixth and seventh graders at the Brantford school. He also helped them understand how injustice affects issues such as world hunger in many ways, she said.
“From his presentation, students had a deep desire to respond in action and to share Christ’s love with people who are dealing with hunger in our world,” said Dreise.
After Bulthuis spoke, Dreise added, students looked through the Kids Gift Catalog and decided to purchase chickens for people in need.
“The students chose chickens because for only a few dollars they could provide a healthy diet for a family in need. The gift would also allow them to sell the eggs to provide for other items they may need,” she said.
Sixth-grade students, said Dreise, are participating in “servant heart” project-based learning (PBL), and Bulthuis spoke to them about how they can be servants in what they give this Christmas.
“I weave together the subjects I teach them in this project: Bible, social issues, and health,” said Dreise. “Our driving question is ‘How can we as global citizens respond to the global issue of hunger and share the love of Christ in our world?’”
They examine, she said, “facts and causes of global hunger while learning what it means for each of us to have a servant heart by focusing on what God's Word says” about hunger and poverty.
After choosing to buy chickens, the students created a plan for a fundraiser, seeking out ways to demonstrate their “servant heart” through work with their families, extended families, or in their neighborhoods.
Some of this work included doing chores, chopping firewood, baking and selling items to their parents’ friends, or working with a grandparent.
Also as a part of this project, said Dreise, “We have a small Christmas tree in our classroom. Each time a chicken is paid for, we place an egg ornament on the tree as a visual of how we are helping people in need.”
After raising funds, she added, “students write a reflection on their ‘servant heart’ work and their response to sharing Christ's love to others.”
By purchasing chickens through World Renew, the students at Brantford Christian School have “an opportunity to give something to a community that has decided that this item would help support the flourishing of that community,” said Bulthuis.
Bulthuis added, “You're giving something helpful and meaningful – all the while encouraging your North American participants to think a bit more about other communities.”
Every year World Renew and its partners identify the items that can help people facing poverty to live more sustainable lives. Churches, schools, individuals, and families all make use of this list of items to make their Christmas giving a bit more meaningful.
In the introduction to the gift catalog, World Renew says: “Whether it be a goat, a chicken, a hand-washing station, or an empowerment training for at-risk youth, your gift could be just what someone needs to move forward with hope.”
Here’s a look at some of the gifts you can buy as a way to help others and, closer to home, bring deeper awareness to the challenges people in other countries have to deal with, certainly during Christmas but year-round as well.
- For $62 USD / $78 CAD you can buy a friendship pack for friends to help each other. The friendship pack includes four chickens and a goat to help farm families earn a steady income by selling some of their eggs and milk.
- For $265 USD / $310 CAD you can buy a herd. Purchasing a herd means giving one of each animal in the catalog – a goat, a pig, a piglet, and a rabbit – to help families raise food to eat better and earn more income. The gift includes vaccinations, training in raising animals, and instructions for growing forage crops so that farmers have the best chance for success.
- For $82 USD / $105 CAD you can help a child from conception to age two get a healthy start in life. This gift provides training for community volunteers who visit expectant mothers and newborns at home. Trained volunteers teach good health, hygiene, and nutrition to families at risk of malnutrition and preventable diseases.
- Or how about a hand-washing kit for children for $40 USD / $55 CAD? Hand-washing saves lives. At school or home, children who have easy access to water and soap, and who learn to wash their hands regularly, get sick less often and spread fewer germs.
- Or for $25 USD / $30 CAD you can purchase small tools, such as nail guns, drills, saws, hammers, and tape measures, for World Renew disaster-response volunteers who help homeowners in the U.S. and Canada recover from natural disasters.
- For $8 USD / $10 CAD you can pay for the cost of a trauma-healing manual, which includes 16 lessons offered in collaboration with the Trauma Healing Institute. The manual is used by trained facilitators to lead small groups in healing wounds of the heart.
- And for $52 USD / $65 CAD you can buy a bicycle for a child to help them go to school.
The catalogs contain much more and, as Bulthuis and Dreise say, can expand the hearts of givers and provide useful and even life-saving resources for people dealing with the reality of poverty in their