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The Christmas Joy of Giving

I was about to board a plane for a flight home from Florida when a friend shared a story about President George H.W. Bush that warmed my heart during this Christmas season.

Bush was known for his kindness, so it’s not surprising that the media has reported on numerous examples of that quality since our 41st president passed away on Nov. 30. But this story by CNN was particularly touching, because it reflected the quiet, humble qualities of a true servant leader. It tells of how Bush anonymously sponsored a boy named Timothy in the Philippines, sending money that helped pay for the Timothy’s education, meals, and activities.

For security reasons, the president signed letters as “George Walker.” Timothy didn’t know his sponsor was an ex-president of the United States until after he exited the program, but it was clear from their correspondence that they developed a close relationship.

The letters were released by Compassion International, the sponsoring agency, and they provide some insight into the joy that comes from pouring a little of your life into the life of another human being.

I can’t say for sure what President Bush thought about his relationship with the boy in the Philippines, but I suspect he would have said he got as much from it or more than Timothy. That’s been the experience for me and my wife. Sue and I have sponsored children in Southeast Asia, Mexico, and, most recently, Zambia and Rwanda. In fact, on the day I read the article about President Bush, I received a note from a boy we sponsor in Rwanda. Check it out:

Dear parents!

Hello, how are you? and how is family at large?
Back to me I’m doing well. It has been long time without having a chart.
back to school l’m doing well but still l have to work hard for next level through your advise you keep on giving. i am always happy to hear your good news, i have been thinking about how i can send you the email, i know it has been long time without talking to you, i hope this message finds you well ,i always keep you in my prayers, when are you planing to come in Rwanda? i hope one day i will meet you, and getting the chance of wishing you merry x-mass and happy new year of 2019, i hope you will have great time with your friends

i love you very much

Sue and I recognize that we’ve been blessed in many, many ways. We can’t explain why we’ve been blessed, but we believe our blessings come with a great responsibility to give back to others. That’s what President Bush was doing, and it’s really at the heart of Christmas to give to others joyfully.

When we give financially to a child in need, we help meet the child’s physical and educational needs. That’s important, but the letters serve a deeper purpose. They tell a child someone cares for them and believe in them. They tell them that they matter. That might not seem like a big deal to those of us born into the land of plenty, but those who come from nothing often believe the lie that they are nothing.

Regardless of if or how you celebrate Christmas, I hope you’ll follow the lead of President Bush. That might involve sponsoring a child, but it might be accomplished in a number of other ways, as well. At its core, it means this: Give of yourself. I promise you this, the joy you get from it is nothing short of a thousand points of light.

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