What’s the funniest/worst Christmas present you’ve ever received?
One Christmas my sister gave me a sporran which is the little purse on a chain that Scotsmen hang on the front of their kilts. I don’t own a kilt. It’s a little like buying me a box of hooks and no fishing rod. The funny thing is that I actually got to use the sporran on a film clip for one of my songs. I dressed up in a dodgy home-made kilt, but my sporran was 100 per cent genuine.
How do you celebrate Christmas in your family?
We all enjoy opening presents together in the morning. My wife Robin wraps each child’s presents (we have four children) in unique paper and places them in neat piles. It’s a lovely sight to walk out to on Christmas morning. We open the presents in turn so we can see each other’s gifts.
As far as food is concerned, we like to make mini Christmas puddings—they are really easy! You mosh up a dark fruitcake, mix in some melted chocolate, roll them into little balls with your sticky, messy fingers and put them in the fridge. When they are set, you pour a little bit of white melted chocolate over them with a tiny piece of glacé cherry. The perfect mini puds!
How involved are your kids (well, grown up kids) in these traditions?
I have found that if you wrap the present and write a child’s name on it, it doesn’t matter how old they are, they will still open it with glee. In the lead up to Christmas, we may go for a drive together to look at Christmas lights. We also like to go to the local carols by candlelight which is run by a Baptist church. It’s a great community event and the wonderful chance to celebrate the gospel publicly.
How important is it to you to involve your children in your advocacy of Compassion?
I don’t try and force my kids to be involved, but they were so excited to see the opportunities I have had to visit Tanzania and Indonesia [to see Compassion’s work]. It has been wonderful that my engagement with Compassion has increased their engagement. They currently sponsor a child together. It’s lovely that they really get and support my role as a Compassion Ambassador.
What are your thoughts on giving at Christmas?
In a society that questions and often diminishes tradition, I think gift-giving at Christmas is a very meaningful and significant exercise. It is also the cause of massive waste, excess, overspending and ugly obligation. Even by giving just one or two Gifts of Compassion, I think that’s a powerful encouragement to the recipient to consider needs beyond our shores and it’s a very worthwhile process for the giver to go through. Of course, the greatest gift at Christmas time is Jesus Christ. I think we need to be encouraging one another as believers to treasure the greatest gift of all.
Loving and encouraging children is a big part of your life, how does Compassion fit into that picture?
When Riley (my youngest son) came with me to Indonesia, one of the things that impacted him was that the Indonesian kids he met were so natural and friendly. Kids are kids no matter where you go. Compassion is a very good fit for someone like me who has made children’s ministry such a huge focus on my professional life. Whereas before my work was limited to certain territories, thanks to my association with Compassion, I feel that my work is impacting a broader sphere, even if my songs aren’t being sung in Tanzania or Ghana or Indonesia. I’m encouraging my friends to play a part with me by serving children in need across the globe.
Why do you think a Gift of Compassion would make a good gift?
A Gift of Compassion means that someone here won’t get something that they probably didn’t need so that someone there gets something that they really did need and it’s really easy to do!
If you’re interested in buying a Gift of Compassion this Christmas, you can check out our catalogue online!