Sacrifice something important, not leftovers

By Judy Brandon: local columnist

What is a sacrifice? Think about that question this day before Christmas.  Sacrifice is usually an underused word during the Christmas season because of all the spending. Yet, there is a popular Christian song that begins with this question: “How can I offer anything that costs me nothing?” That is something to contemplate.

Several years ago, I read an article in a magazine about a Christian worker in Chile. The inner city was her assignment where she worked among the millions in one of the larger metropolitan areas. The purpose of this inner-city mission where she worked was to reach out to the poor families in the area.

They fed the poor, distributed clothes to them and told them about Christ. Reaching out to a vast city in a foreign country was quite an undertaking but this missionary believed that the inner-city mission was a vehicle to spread God’s love.

The missionary outlined some of her plans and she acknowledged some of the needs of the mission. Readers were encouraged by the editors to respond with donated items.

Part of the program at the mission was the collection of toys and gift items for distribution to the poor children who visited the center. The workers then presented those children with some item from America. The children of the country treasured the toys and games from the USA. These objects were prized.

Yet, one observation was interesting. The missionary mentioned that they were always looking for good items they could distribute. She had been embarrassed on several occasions because of the condition of the donated items she had received from the United States.

Sometimes the shipments were full of broken toys, and stuffed toys that were ripped, missing material from their stuffing. They had opened boxes with dolls missing an arm or leg, doll clothes with no dolls, half-used spiral notebooks, and puzzles and games with pieces missing. Once, they opened several baggies with a collection of nearly dried markers, bent and rusty scissors, and old pencils!

“Most of the time,” the director said, “we just get junk and we are embarrassed to give it to anyone … certainly not a precious expectant child.”

Then she added: “It is a little difficult to tell a child that God loves them and then present them with junk from Christians in the United States who claim to be interested in them.”

I thought of all the efforts to feed and clothe the hungry and care for children of the homeless and poor families right here in the United States! I thought about Clovis. I am sad to say that too many times I have fallen into the same selfish trap. I give always my second best — that is if I give at all.

I think about that this Christmas season. When reaching out to those in need, how hypocritical to give my leftovers. A real sacrifice will cost me something.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: cbrandon@plateautel.net