To bring joy – a heartfelt wish of many people, particularly at Christmas. However, one of the greatest challenges is to come up with a creative and meaningful gift. The “Gifts of Faith” Christmas campaign of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) offers an opportunity to give a gift that will endure.
Christians are being persecuted and are suffering hardships all over the world. In this year’s Christmas campaign, ACN suggests giving relatives and friends a “gift of faith” instead of something material. How? By making a donation in the name of the recipient to one of ACN’s aid projects for Christians in need worldwide. A card or thank-you letter can then be placed under the Christmas tree or in front of the nativity scene as a gift.
“A lot of people can’t think of anything to give their loved ones for the feast of the birth of Jesus because they already have everything,” Philipp Ozores, General Secretary of ACN, said. “This is where our campaign comes in. Instead of giving a gift that may only temporarily bring joy or none at all, a gift of faith reflects the true meaning of Christmas: giving the place of honour to Jesus Christ, sharing the joy of His coming with all and helping the poor and oppressed in His name.” Many Christians will spend Christmas in deadly fear of terrorist attacks or in great hardship, but we can show our support through “gifts of faith”, he explained. “Ultimately, we as benefactors also receive a gift: the assurance of faith that Christians in need live by, particularly at Christmas, the celebration of the coming of our Lord.”
He gave a few examples such as distributing Christmas parcels to children in war-torn Syria, grants towards the purchase of means of transportation to carry out mission work in remote areas in Africa, but also subsistence aid for poor priests or religious sisters who live in hardship, but who, thanks to this gift, can continue to serve the people and keep the light of faith burning in what are often the darkest of times.
“Moreover, the lived faith of many of these persecuted Christians is a real gift for us. Christmas has not lost its original meaning there. It is a celebration of hope: God becomes incarnate to save us. Therefore, let us give them a gift so that they have a chance to develop this faith. This is a gift that lasts a long time, if not forever,” the General Secretary said.
Father Thabet Habib, parish priest on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq, expressed his deep gratitude for this campaign and emphasised the necessity of aid for his region. “When the war was over and we returned home, we were left with nothing. Our houses had been destroyed. Thanks to your help and the fact that the terrorists were not able to destroy our faith, we are rebuilding our churches so that we can slowly return to normal. It is always a source of great joy to me when this brings smiles back on the faces of the people in my parish.”
Videos and other media showing the kinds of projects that are being supported by this year’s “Gift of Faith” campaign can be found at Gifts of Faith