taking the words of Jesus seriously

As I was driving home the other night I began to realize just what time of year it is: Christmas time. For many of you this sentence makes you want to shout, “Get with it Campolo” given that the Christmas season has been here for at least a solid two weeks. However, year after year I seem to overlook the beautiful displays of lights and decorations that drape yard after yard as I drive home and in doing so I do not realize that the season is already half way over. All to often I seem to miss the joy and beauty of the season altogether.

The Christmas season, though, is not known as much for its decorations as it is for the gifts that are given and received. For years now I have been preaching a message that goes something like this: People in America have everything they need, so what do you buy a person who has everything they need? The answer is not something else they don’t need but rather NOTHING. This message though has not seemed to be very fruitful to the masses given that people today buy more useless stuff then they did back when I started preaching over 50 years ago.

So this year I am going to try a slightly different approach. Rather than preaching “buy nothing”, I want to encourage everyone, if they are going to buy something for someone even if they don’t need it, that they buy through a fair trade organization. In doing so, you give a gift not only to the recipient but also to the person who crafted the product. Fair trade organizations seek to import products from small businesses and individuals throughout the world and in doing so compensate the crafters in a fair and responsible manner.

For jewelry take a look at Ten Thousand Villages, for greeting cards take a look at our affiliated ministry Haiti Partners. If you are searching for something for your kids check out Global Good Partners, or if you’d prefer some chocolate or coffee check out the Global Exchange Store.

Be sure to check out all these websites as each of them contains more products then the ones I mentioned. Also be sure to search for other fair trade organizations as there are many more that I did not specifically mention.

So as your shopping this holiday season keep in mind not only who you are buying the gift for but also who made the gift. Through purchasing fairly traded products you help provide economic revenue for individuals throughout the world as well as instill within people a sense of dignity and respect that the goods they create are being bought around the world.

Doesn’t this make the “giving” that much more of a blessing?!

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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