by Sis. Olive Aireen Monterona

It’s a tradition we have all grown up with—Christmas gift-giving. It’s actually nothing new; but this year, it gave us a whole lot of meaning.

Every Christmas, we are always reminded of the old adage “It is better to give than to receive”, a nod to Acts 20:35 (ESV) where Paul says, “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” This especially rings true to all of us believers in Christ, and the pandemic has painted these words with a rainbow of colors that we would not have seen if our hearts were closed. This is why it has become a yearly event for the church, and something that we all look forward to before the year comes to an end.

Before the pandemic shook the world, the Women in Love (WIL) and Men of Honor (MOH) Ministries had plans and programs lined up for the rest of 2020. But all of them were put on hold as restrictions were placed by the government, and even when restrictions were eased. The limitations in our movement, though, did not hamper the goal of both ministries to reach out and carry on with the giving-for-a-cause project. And so, preparations were made weeks before Christmas.

To backtrack a bit, months before the lockdown, the WIL Ministry launched the Coins For A Cause Project. Tin cans were distributed among its members where they can fill them with loose coins and/or bills they can spare until a specified date where the cans will be collected and every coin will be accounted for. The total collection will then be used to fund a joint activity by the WIL and MOH Ministries to “give for a cause”.  We are ever thankful that even though we had to forgo the original plan of the project, the new path we had to take on was even more meaningful for all of us.

It was amazing to witness the selflessness of members behind the preparations of the project—from the financial support of the members, down to the preparations of the food and hygiene packs and actual distribution of the items. On December 23, 2020, the North and South Region leaders of EFC Davao lead the distribution of food packs to the members who have been badly affected by the pandemic. In total, ten families were blessed. On the 25th, the ministry leaders and administrators took the initiative to hand out hygiene packs, with a pack of ready-to-eat roasted chicken to go along with each pack, to random individuals out in the streets that day. Sixty people were blessed in total.

Although gift-giving is a yearly event in EFC-Davao, this project was the first to be accomplished on the 25th itself, and it was more beautiful this year because it was a new experience and more. It was the first time that gifts were given to random people working on the streets in different areas of the city, since crowd gatherings are still prohibited. The activity went on for two hours and more, going around different barangays while silently praying for the Holy Spirit to lead us to the people whom the Lord wants us to bless. Seeing the smiles on the people’s faces, and how gratitude had shone through their eyes, we’d say we are even more blessed than they have been.  Truly, it brings so much more joy in our hearts when we realize that we have become vessels for the Lord to reach out to these people and plant seeds of hope and faith in their hearts. WIL Ministry Head, Janice Sy, points out that giving makes us more aware of how much we have been blessed with; and that every time we give, we should remember that we lose nothing, instead, we gain everything. Giving gives us a more grateful heart in return.

“We should do this again next year, or even if it’s not Christmas”, we all thought after all the activity had died down and we were left to our thoughts.  Because, yes, giving is not only a yearly event but an act of kindness that we can do in many ways. It is not confined to a season or a single reason. As Peter Jay Pascua, head of the MOH Ministry puts it, “It is in the Heart of Jesus to save us and help the oppressed and the poor. So as genuine believers of Jesus Christ, our hearts must be filled with joy in giving, not only on this season but in every season of our life.  Let the light of Jesus illuminate in us as we are waiting for His coming. Our reigning King.”

In giving, we do not want to elevate ourselves, but the name of Jesus alone. We may put in our share of time and dime, but the extravagant joy He lavishes on us cannot be compared to any treasure on earth. May we all bask in His love that it may resonate through us and bless others with it!

A blessed new year ahead, JECPP.