The Joy of Giving
Dr. Jody Ray

Nicholas was born of wealthy parents in 280 A.D. in a small town called Patara in Asia Minor, what we know as modern-day Turkey. He lost his parents early by an epidemic but not before they had instilled in him the gift of faith. After the loss of his parents, young Nicholas went to Myra and there lived a life full of sacrifice and love and the spirit of Jesus. Nicholas became so Christlike and made such an impact in his community that when the town needed a bishop, he was elected.

Later, under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas was imprisoned and suffered for his faith. There have been many stories of his generosity and compassion: how he begged for food for the poor and how he would give girls money so that they would have a dowry to get a husband. The story most repeated, however, was about how he would don a disguise and go out and give gifts to poor children. He gave away everything he had, and in the year 314, he died. His body was moved to Italy where his remains are to this day.

But the story of Nicholas has spread around the world; there are more churches in the world named after St. Nicholas than any other person in all the history of the church. Oh, some people have done strange things to him. The poet, Clement Moore, gave him a red nose and eight tiny reindeer. Thomas Nast, the illustrator, made him big and fat and gave him a red suit trimmed with fur. Still others have given him names like Belsnickle, the crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer in the folklore of southwestern Germany. Then there are the names we are more familiar with like Kris Kringle and Santa Claus. But what’s important about him is that his good deeds of love, compassion, and generosity were motivated by his love for Christ. Because of Nicholas’ gentle selfless love, he touched the whole world.

It’s our love for Christ that motivates us, too, to do good deeds of love, compassion, and generosity. During this Christmas season, whether openly or in ways only God sees, here are a few suggestions to help you spread hope and joy to those in need. Specific needs are listed on their ministry links, but if you would like to support any of these ministries with a monetary gift, you can do so by visiting our “Give” page. Choose “Missions” from the list of funds and indicate the mission name in the note section. Thank you for your heart for helping others and sharing the love of Christ. After all, He is the reason for the season!