This week kicks off with two significant dates that are probably unfamiliar to most of us.
Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a day designated by the United Nations to focus on eradicating forms of modern-day slavery, such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child labor. The irony should not be lost on Christians that yesterday was the beginning of Advent (Dec. 1), when we focus our hearts on the coming of Christ, who ultimately frees us from all forms of bondage.
The other big day happens tomorrow: #GivingTuesday. In just its second year, #GivingTuesday is social movement to encourage charitable giving at the start of the holiday season. As the New York-based organizers point out, Americans have one day a year devoted to giving thanks, and two days a year (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) devoted to shopping. Why do we not have a day devoted to giving back?
#GivingTuesday is not just a Manhattan marketing fad, and it’s not just good for charities. We think it’s good spiritual discipline for all of us.
Most nonprofits see a surge in donations at the end of the year, particularly in the last week of December — after people have wrapped up their Christmas shopping. That means we often tend to give out of our leftovers, whatever remains after we’ve recovered from our shopping sprees. #GivingTuesday, though not a specifically Christian initiative, encourages us to give to others before we’ve exhausted our shopping budgets.
Like the biblical principle of tithing, #GivingTuesday reminds us to give to God “off the top,” then hit the mall.
So what’s the connection between these two big days? This year, you have the chance on #GivingTuesday to do something to help eradicate modern-day slavery. Through TEAM’s Wish List, you can fund emergency housing and help provide counseling for women in Austria trying to escape the prostitution industry, many of whom are immigrants from Eastern Europe. It’s a small step, but TEAM’s ministry in Austria, Heart Factory, is helping these women change their own lives forever.
Of course, you may feel led to respond differently to #GivingTuesday. It may be prompting you to finally start giving to your local church. Maybe it’s time to make an anonymous gift to a friend or loved one in financial need. Or maybe it’s a challenge for you to tally how much money you save through sale shopping and creating homemade gifts, and donate the difference to a missionary you already support.
Wherever you give, or even if you’re unable to give, we’re excited for you to join us and the growing #GivingTuesday movement as a practical way to counteract the consumerism of our age.
And if you’re scratching your head about the hashtag in the name, don’t let that scare you. It’s just social media-speak encouraging others to spread the good news online about giving. But what you Tweet is probably less important than what action you take.
“Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you,’ when you already have it with you.” -Proverbs 3:28