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A Far Greater Gift: Restored Relationships and Eternal Hope in Jesus

One of my favorite holiday memories happened in 1985 when I opened up a brand-new Nintendo on Christmas Day. It was a total surprise and beyond what I could have imagined. I had not asked for it nor did I expect it. But when I opened it, I was so overcome with surprise and happiness that I jumped up and ran around the house in celebration. I had received the greatest gift!

While that moment of pure joy left a lasting impact on me, the value of that Nintendo pales in comparison to a gift I would receive more than a decade later. I gave my life to Jesus and received the undeserved and unexplainable gift of salvation — a far greater gift than the Nintendo I received in 1985 or on any other Christmas morning.

Jesus found me amid personal turmoil, and he forever changed the trajectory of my life.


Since accepting Christ’s gift of salvation, I have dedicated my life to serving him and his church. In 2007, this commitment took me to Rwanda in one of my first assignments working with World Relief. One of the projects I was involved in focused on equipping local churches to provide palliative care for people living with AIDS who were nearing the end of their lives.

I’ll never forget meeting a woman who was facing the final stages of the illness. She shared that she was confident in her salvation and joyful in the thought of heaven, but she was burdened for her children who would be orphaned when she passed. The local church had committed to help care for her children, but as a mother, she was concerned for their future.

That day, I learned a powerful lesson about the importance of the church meeting needs in a lasting, restorative way. While there is no replacement for a mother, the love of Christ’s followers can create a pathway to peace and restoration.


On Christmas, we use gifts to celebrate because Jesus is the greatest gift ever given to the world. John 3:16 teaches us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

But eternal life isn’t the only gift we’ve been given through Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, Paul writes:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. 

An instructor of mine from Fuller Seminary, Bryant Myers, taught me that the roots of poverty can be traced to broken relationships.

Broken relationships between individuals, communities and nations fuel systems that perpetuate cycles of poverty. They create conflicts that have devastating consequences for those involved. Broken relationships between God, ourselves, others and creation produce unacceptable human suffering and prevent people from fulfilling their God-given potential.

If broken relationships are at the root of poverty, then the anecdote must be reconciliation. When we accept the invitation of Jesus to be his ambassadors, we also accept the invitation to partake in a ministry of restoring these broken relationships wherever they show up.


Over the last year, I’ve witnessed hundreds of life-changing stories at World Relief. These stories remind me of all the ways the church is living out its role as Christ’s ambassador and reconciler.

I think about Boniface, a man who lost his sight when he was young. He was bullied as a child and ostracized as an adult. But then, the local church stepped in. They created support groups for people with disabilities and invited them to participate in church activities. Today, Boniface is a leader in his community, living in restored relationships with his neighbors and forging the way for others to do the same.

I think of my friend and coworker, Medard Ngueita who came to the U.S. fleeing persecution. He was so impacted by World Relief’s work of welcome, that he joined our staff. Today, he gives back to his community leading over 200 staff in World Relief’s Western Washington office.

I think of a Sudanese family who fled their country due to ongoing conflict. A small group of women from a Chicagoland church welcomed this family to the U.S. and helped them build lasting, flourishing relationships in their new community. 

And then there’s Denyse, a single mother in Rwanda who struggled to make ends meet. She felt lost and drank heavily to soothe herself. She also turned to prostitution to earn a better income. It wasn’t the life she wanted to live, but she couldn’t find a way out on her own. Then someone from a local church invited Denyse to join a savings group. She learned more about financial planning and stewardship. She took out a loan and began to grow her business. But even greater than that — she made friends who started sharing the word of God with her, and eventually, she accepted Jesus as her savior. She experienced a far greater gift than economic growth alone – one of restored relationship with God, herself and others.


Very early in my Christian walk, I read a verse in Psalm 31 that said: 

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
    for you have seen my troubles,
    and you care about the anguish of my soul.
You have not handed me over to my enemies
    but have set me in a safe place.

At the time, this verse encapsulated the change that Jesus brought to my own life. I received the gift of eternal hope and saw relationships restored and a new life before me.

This holiday season, I am grateful for people like you who help us share this gift of restoration — a gift that is truly far greater than any other gift — with women, men and children around the world who are experiencing suffering, anguish and despair. 

May they forever know the love, hope and redemption of Christ in their lives — and may you know and share in it as well as you move toward restored relationships in your own life and here with us at World Relief.

You can give a far greater gift this season by giving to World Relief. Be a part of meeting physical and spiritual needs of more people like Denyse. Together, we’re creating change that lasts.

Myal Greene has a deep desire to see churches worldwide equipped, empowered, and engaged in meeting the needs of vulnerable families in their communities. In 2021, he became President and CEO after serving for fourteen years with the organization. While living in Rwanda for eight years, he developed World Relief’s innovative church-based programming model that is currently used in nine countries. He also spent six years in leadership roles within the international programs division. He has previous experience working with the U.S. Government. He holds B.S. in Finance from Lehigh University and an M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Global Leadership. He and his wife Sharon and have three children.

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