This past weekend I had the great joy of preaching at Belmont United Methodist Church. One of the curious things about preaching on Sunday, November 25th, was that the day was situated between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What good news can the church share as millions take to stores and the Internet to find good deals on the iPhone 5, tablets, LCD tv’s, and new clothes?


As soon as the Thanksgiving dinner plates and leftovers are put away, it seems like the month long drive toward buying and giving presents in underway. The onslaught of advertisements and commercials beg the question: what do we really need this Christmas? What’s on the Christmas list that your grandparents, parents, and loved ones may be asking about? What is important to you during the Christmas season?

One of the most amazing ministries I’ve ever seen is the Christmas Miracle Offering at Ginghamsburg UMC in Ohio and a similar ministry at Belmont UMC. These two churches offer congregants the opportunity to consume less stuff and Christmas and make gifts that are saving and changing lives. Back in 2004 the pastor at Ginghamsburg asked his congregation to spend less at Christmas and give so that lives in Darfur, Sudan would be saved. Check out the ‘Sudan Project’ video below.

At Belmont UMC, the Christmas Miracle Offering this year  is changing lives in the small African country of Malawi by building homes for pastors. In prior years, the Miracle Offering has built churches and boreholes for clean fresh water in villages across the country. I know what’s on my Christmas list this year: homes for Pastors Heston Mbuzi, Sufuliano Chisale, and Lyson Dzatopesa. What’s on yours?