Recently a question was posted on the Confessional Lutheran Fellowship page on Facebook asking about alternatives to Operation Christmas Child. While it is nice to receive a present on Christmas morning, this is actually quite unusual in Africa. Most families live day to day. Nevertheless, Christmas is a big deal. It is the time when we remember that our Savior came into the world, took flesh like ours for the specific purpose of dying for our sins so that we may have the gift of eternal life with Him in paradise. Many families in Africa spend many hours celebrating this gift in church on Christmas and then they will splurge on a special meal together.
The greatest gift that many see as the most precious is receiving a Bible. While it is nice to have a toy to play with, what I have noticed in Africa is that many youth want to learn more about Jesus. This was the case last year when I taught a seminar in Tanzania which was intended for pastors and Sunday school teachers but we did have a one day event for teenagers. At the end of the day they were given a story bible and a catechism. To our surprise, they were not satisfied. They didn’t want more things, more stuff. They wanted more teaching. If the adults got to learn all week long, they wanted to learn as well. So we told them that if they came, we would also teach them. Each day about a dozen Tanzanian teenagers came at 8:30am and remained until about 5pm in the evening, reading, hearing, and learning about Jesus.
Now this year I have been invited to lead a youth seminar the week before Christmas. I am told there will be around 500 youth attending! We already have catechisms in Kiswahili for them but most do not have bibles. So I was thinking, instead of giving them stuff, how about if we collected funds and got them Bibles? We can buy Swahili bibles here for $10 a piece. If you are interested, please talk with your congregation and see if they would like to work together for this sort of “Operation Christmas Child.”
Funds can be sent to:
Lutherans in Africa
7500 State Road
Parma, OH 44134