C H R I S T M A S for the P O O R

frequently asked questions


Why Christmas?

Picking a specific event and time such as Christmas fits into the rationale of being focused and narrow in scope. It is also a time when people are accustomed to an extra financial outlay. For people to give significantly during this time requires them not so much to come up with new resources but rather to redirect what they're already doing. There is another very important reason for choosing Christmas as the focal point of this plan. Christmas is the time when Christians celebrate the incarnation of our Lord and Savior. Strangely, the most well recognized aspect of the Christmas celebration in America is the consumption of luxury consumer goods and the accompanying annual upswing in the retail sector of our economy. Instead of turning our eyes toward those who lack the basic necessities of life, we who have plenty circulate luxuries amongst ourselves. It's not wrong to give gifts to those you love; for the majority of Christians, the gift exchange is a beautiful exercise of love. But the time has come to be led in a better direction. We cannot ignore the cries of the needy any longer. The world looks on the church as it consumes more and fails to do what is within its power to meet the needs of the poor, and it writes us off as ineffective hypocrites. Constantly feeding ourselves and blessing ourselves only convinces the world that, as far as being Christians and going to church goes, we are pretty much in it for ourselves. This image is not consistent with the true identity of the Church, and it causes many who observe it to spurn the Gospel. By taking the money we would normally spend on Christmas gifts and giving it to physically save the lives of the poor, we will begin to break the strongholds of materialism and love of the world that grips so much of the American church.


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Are you asking people to give money to Christmas for the Poor?

No. Christmas for the Poor itself is entirely a volunteer effort, and we hope it stays that way to the maximum extent possible. We are essentially a third party who shamelessly solicits donations for the water charity sector. We are trying to raise ridiculous sums of money for the organizations who are already established in this work, of which we won't handle a penny.


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Is Christmas for the Poor a one time event or is it ongoing?

As planned, it is a one-time event, however, the whole point is to kickstart sacrificial giving by American Christians on a level commensurate with the worldwide need. We want to put a big dent in the overall need (estimates I have heard are between $100-200 billion needed to bring safe water to everyone on earth), while raising enough awareness and momentum to see the rest of the need paid for in the near future. There is no reason we can't do a big Christmas push again at some point if we want. Also, there are many needs in addition to the need for safe water and sanitation such as AIDS relief, building and maintaining orphanages, disaster relief, and so on. These needs should not be neglected as we move into a new season of caring for the poor.


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Why is Christmas for the Poor only for water and sanitation when there are so many other needs to fill?

The answer is threefold. First, because the lack of clean water and sanitation is the biggest contributor to premature death and debilitating disease worldwide. Second, the water crisis is simple to address. It is far simpler and more assured of success, given the necessary resources, than many other pressing needs. Third, in order to unify a large number of people from diverse backgrounds, races, denominations, we need a narrow focus. We need to be specific and targeted so that when people consider getting on board with Christmas for the Poor, they have a clear understanding of what they are doing and how exactly it will affect the recipients of their aid. And instead of millions of people each choosing a different need and distributing the effect of this effort, we concentrate it in order to create a very visible and measurable effect in the outcome. The focus is narrow for the sake of unity and the strength that unity subsequently brings. And bringing clean water and adequate sanitation to people is the best investment; it gives us the most return in terms of lives saved per dollar spent, so it only makes sense to focus on that first.


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What is the standard for a water-providing organization to participate in Christmas for the Poor?

First, it should be clear that the flow of money for water projects is directly from individual donors to the water-providing organization of their choice. Therefore, the decision as to which organization is worthy of stewarding that gift is entirely up to them. In order to facilitate giving, however, Christmas for the Poor will publish a list of water organizations that are participating for the convenience of potential donors. The criteria for inclusion in this list is an affiliation with an acceptable auditing organization such as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Even if a particular water organization does not meet this criteria, they are urged to participate in every way; they simply can't be listed on the Christmas for the Poor website without having the appropriate credential of accountability. Furthermore, participation in Christmas for the Poor does not constitute an endorsement of the beliefs stated by Christmas for the Poor or its volunteers.


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What about secular water-providing organizations?

Again, CFP is a plan of action for individuals to donate their Christmas funds directly to the water-providing organization of their choice. Simply put, each person can do whatever he wants. The only role CFP plays in this is to publish an inexhaustive list of possible choices for facilitation purposes only. This list does not constitute an endorsement or statement of affiliation. There are many organizations across the world doing the work of providing water and sanitation to the poor, and the fact is that many of them, if not the majority, are secular. Excluding them from our list would just unnecessarily hamper the effort to help as many people as possible.


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If an organization participates in Christmas for the Poor, does that mean they endorse the beliefs, policies, or decisions of CFP?

No.


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Is Christmas for the Poor about helping the poor or spreading the Gospel?

The answer to this question is a hierarchy of priorities. As everything ought to be, Christmas for the Poor is ultimately about the glory of God. In order to properly glorify God, we must obey Him. He has commanded us both to preach the Gospel and meet the needs of the poor. Jesus came to save that which was lost. He fed and healed people, but He made it clear that His greater purpose in His dealings with men was to save their souls unto Himself. If we feed people but don't preach the gospel, they might live longer on the earth but perish in eternity. If we preach the gospel but fail to meet the needs of the poor, our preaching will be ineffective and hypocritical. We must do both.


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