Christmas is coming! Shopping. Baking. Spending. Decorating. Lights. Trees. Family. Cooking. Stress. Parties. Buying presents. Wrapping presents. Giving presents…. But don’t miss the point. On that first Christmas, as everyone went about business as usual, God’s presence entered our world in a radical way. Out of love, God almighty came to us as a little baby and the world would never be the same.
Advent Revolution is our attempt to celebrate Christmas in a way that truly honors Jesus. While the world around us grows increasingly more commercialized and consumer-oriented, we take a different path. What if we refused to get caught up in the holiday frenzy and truly worshipped Jesus? What if we focused on his presence, not our presents? What could happen if each one of us spent less on ourselves this Christmas and put it together to bless the world? The people of First Methodist have walked this path each year since 2007 and have experienced the joy of seeing God do amazing things around the world such as providing homes for orphans, building churches and more.
This Year’s Project
Our goal this year is to give $28,000 to establish a feeding program for the children of Ishwa Island in Rwanda. Ishwa Island is located in Lake Kivu between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and is accessible only by boat. Conditions are difficult on Ishwa. The people struggle to meet their daily needs by fishing/farming and recent government restrictions on fishing have made simple subsistence even more challenging. Many children suffer from serious malnutrition. Our partners, World Help and the Anglican Church, have plans to feed 500 children while also providing them education and teaching them about Jesus. Feeding programs are often a first step in community development that later leads to schools, churches and even clinics being established.
What Can You Do?
- Commit to a Jesus-focused Christmas. Refuse to be side tracked by the voices of consumerism. Enjoy God’s presence.
- Give time to those you love. Your presence is also more important than your presents.
- Look for opportunities to serve others such as working our Food Bank Christmas parties, ringing the Salvation Army Bell, baking a cake for our Christmas Prison Ministry, etc.
- Agree as a family to spend at least $50 less per person on gifts you don’t need. Let’s put that together so we can bless others. Make your check’s payable to TFUMC with “advent revolution” in the memo.
- Drop your contribution in the offering plate or bring to the Office by December 23rd so we can celebrate our goal being met on Christmas Eve.
More of Our Story
Thomasville First United Methodist began our adventure of Advent Revolution back in 2007 when we began to ask ourselves some questions about how we might best honor Jesus as we celebrated his birthday. What if we spent less in order to give more? At Christmas we remember how God left the comfort of heaven to enter into our world of sin and suffering because of love. How could we, in some way, do the same? That first year, we spent less on ourselves and put those funds together to build four Homes of Hope for orphans who lost their parents during the Rwandan genocide. Since then, this practice has so blessed us and others that we’ve continued. Here are some of the other exciting things we’ve seen God do through Advent Revolution:
Christmas 2008 – After our second year of Advent Revolution we raised enough funds to build four additional homes housing 16 orphans at Star School in Rwanda. Plus we had other churches from Georgia, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania join us in the revolution.
Christmas 2009 – For our third year of Advent Revolution we raised money to build a water well at Star School so the 500 students there will have access to clean drinking water. This year, while giving globally, we also encouraged each of our church members to serve locally, giving them specific opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ in our own community this Christmas. This included hosting 11 Christmas parties for almost 1000 clients at the local food bank.
Christmas 2010 — Advent Revolution focused on two projects this year. We built a roof on the Church of the Blessed Mango Tree which has literally risen from the ashes after the 1994 genocide and is now one of our ministry partners serving the poorest of the poor in Rwanda, including many children they have brought in from the streets and introduced to Jesus. The other half of what we collected provided scholarship money to help the children in our Homes of Hope to complete their education.
Christmas 2011 — This year, Advent Revolution had both a local and a global component. In addition to providing more scholarship aid so that the children in our Rwandan Homes of Hope could finish their education, we also be funded the start of a new ministry in Thomasville, GA. The Back Pack Buddies Foundation was established to help other area churches feed hungry children in our community whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria.
Christmas 2012 — Once again, Advent Revolution had both a global and a local component. In Rwanda, we funded the establishment of a Widow’s Co-op so the poor widows at The Church of the Blessed Mango Tree could receive vocational training and then get micro-loans to start their own small businesses. In Thomasville, we funded the make-over of the Rec Room at Vashti Children’s Home, as a warm and friendly place where abused and neglected children could spend time with their mentors.
Christmas 2013 — The Bugarama Valley is one of the neediest areas of Rwanda, sometimes called the forgotten district. This year we provided building materials for a congregation to build a new church which will serve as a hub of outreach and training for the whole valley. The church members built the church themselves. We also provided building materials for the Thomasville Rescue Mission, our local soup kitchen, to move to and renovate it’s new location near First Methodist.
Christmas 2014 — We took on three great projects: 1) We provided all of the equipment, beds and supplies to open the maternity ward at the Anglican Clinic in Cyangugu, Rwanda. 2) We funded the Mustard Seed Project – a coalition of Chinese church leaders joining together to send missionaries into some of the most unreached parts of the Muslim world. 3) We funded the Back Pack Buddy Foundation’s first ever summer feeding program for hungry children right here in our own community.
Join the Revolution
Advent Revolution is just our local part of a much larger movement to change the way we celebrate Christmas. Christians everywhere are choosing compassion over consumption. To learn more check out www.AdventConspiracy.org.