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December Activate Post: 10 ways to bless cross-cultural workers this Christmas


As we are currently in the season of Advent, I have been contemplating the meaning and impact of Advent in my own life. Last week the theme of Advent was “love,” and I stumbled upon this moving story:

Some time ago, a man punished his three-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”

The man became embarrassed by his overreaction, but his frustration continued when he saw that the box was empty. He spoke harshly to her; “Don’t you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside?” The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried, “Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They’re all for you, Daddy.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness. Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child. Her father kept the gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

Love is indeed the greatest gift of all, as Jesus IS the gift of love we celebrate this season! This is also the season that can be the most difficult for cross-cultural workers who are serving far from their communities of origin, family, and friends. Just as the small gold box brought the father in the story a bit of connectedness and joy; your small gestures, filled with love, can do the same no matter the distance!

As a congregation, how are you blessing and encouraging your cross-cultural workers this Christmas? Sometimes it’s difficult to think outside of the box of typical “gift giving” this time of year.

The following are 10 ways to bless and encourage your cross-cultural workers (locally and globally):

  1. Ask if there’s a way you can bless them “personally” for Christmas.
  2. Mail a card. Set up a station after morning worship for congregants to personalize cards.
  3. Send a package.
  4. Call during a worship service for the entire congregation to say, “Merry Christmas!”
  5. Extend an invitation to make a video appearance during morning service.
  6. Send a picture of your small group or family (leave a blank space or empty seat … indicating there’s an empty space in your heart because of their absence).
  7. Start a symphony of emails from staff and members of the congregation every day from Christmas eve to New Year’s Eve.
  8. Do something for their families (on their behalf), particularly for aging parents or grandchildren.
  9. Send video messages of encouragement to them from different ministries within the church.
  10. Build a furlough box filled with practical gift cards in preparation for their visit in 2020 (i.e. gas, restaurants, grocery, toiletries).

There are many gestures that are “gold box” worthy, however, it’s the love that gives the value. It’s the core of whose we are and who we are! For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.

Rev. Sonji Y. Pass serves as the regional director of church culture.