The Greatest Gift
Before the birth of Christ all of Israel was expecting the Messiah to come as a powerful military ruler to deliver them from Roman oppression. But God was thinking outside the box of everyone’s expectations. The Messiah certainly came into the world, but he came as a little baby, dependent on the care of mere humans to meet his every need. And the world would never be the same.
Christmas is how we celebrate this world-changing event. But if Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, why are we receiving all of the presents — often presents we don’t even need? How could we celebrate Christmas in a way that truly honors Jesus?
Thinking Outside the Box
Advent Revolution is our attempt to think outside the box in our celebration of Christmas. 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 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 (read more of our story below).
This Year’s Projects
This year our goal is to divide $25,000 among three amazing projects:
Cyangugu Maternity Ward — Our partner in Rwanda, Bishop Nathan Amooti, has been focused on restarting a church-owned medical clinic in the needy area of Cyangugu. Quality maternity care is a
desperate need in the area where 1 in 20 women die during childbirth. Our goal is to set up the new maternity ward with all the medical equipment, beds, and supplies needed to serve the women and children of Cyangugu.
Back Pack Buddies Foundation — Since the Back Pack Buddies Foundation was launched through Advent Revolution 2011, they’ve helped start eight more fully functioning Back Pack Buddies ministries feeding over 500 hungry kids throughout our community. This year we’re going to help the foundation launch it’s first ever summer feeding program which should be able to support itself in the future.
Mustard Seed Project — South Asia contains some of the most unreached places on earth where most people have no opportunity to hear about the love of Jesus. Western missionaries are not always welcome in some of these places, but we will help our missions partner establish a sending initiative through a fellowship of Asian church leaders. They will work together to train, support, and encourage those who desire to share their faith with the Muslim population in some of these most unreached areas.
What Can You Do?
- Commit to a Jesus-focused Christmas. Refuse to be side tracked by the voices of consumerism.
- Give time to those you love. Your presence is 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.
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.