At Christmas time, we often look for the big miracles: unexpected wartime truces, doctors saving lives against all odds, or the post office storming a courtroom with mailbags full of letters to Santa Claus.
Less talked about are the small miracles: acts of love, grace, and kindness that change lives. These are the types of stories that seem to find their way to Jim Tulloch.
Jim has been editing A Christmas Digest for over two decades, with the first edition in 1992. This year marks the 10th edition of the mini-magazine, which has sold over 900,000 copies in the past 23 years.
“Initially my idea was to have something special to hand out at Christmas time that would be of an evangelistic nature,” recalls Jim. “I had wanted to create a Christmas version of the Four Spiritual Laws and this is what it evolved to, something that somebody wouldn’t feel embarrassed to just give to anybody.”
Over the years, A Christmas Digest has changed and adapted, moving from a Norman Rockwell-inspired look in the early editions to a more modern look with some wonderful graphic design in the newest edition. They always, however, have featured inspiring stories, fun games, and the Christmas story from the book of Luke.
The first edition had modest goals, printing a small run to insert into a larger magazine, but Jim saw an opportunity for the Digest to reach a larger audience and be useful for churches.
“I saw churches that were doing huge Christmas outreaches,” he says, “with so many people coming and that might be the only time of year they come to church.”
The issue Jim saw was that people would come to a Christmas service, listen to the music, hear a brief message, then go home and that was the end of it. Instead, he thought, what if they had something they could take home with them? Something that was uplifting and meaningful, but also humorous and enjoyable.
Churches responded. “The next year, people started saying, ‘Where can we get these?'” says Jim, “So we reprinted the first issue, I think we printed 50,000 and we sold all of them. We ran that same issue 3 years in a row.”
It’s not just churches that use A Christmas Digest, however. For many, the Digest has become a part of their Christmas tradition. When a new edition comes out, copies find their way into stockings, onto coffee tables, and under Christmas trees.
Many use A Christmas Digest as a Christmas card – at 99 cents per copy, the 16-page mini-magazine is a bargain in comparison to most cards – while others give the magazine to their neighbours or friends.
“With Christmas baking!” adds Christine Tulloch, Jim’s daughter. “It’s used as a nice segue into a witnessing opportunity, because oftentimes you don’t just want to go, ‘Do you love Jesus?’ You just want to give them a little encouragement. It can really speak into their lives.”
The new edition of the Digest features an emotional but encouraging story about a man named Al, the love and care he showed his wife Mary at the end of her life, and a small, but incredibly precious Christmas miracle.
“I initially thought, ‘This story’s a little sad. It might be too sad,'” says Jim, who met Al during a renovation project and became close friends with him and his wife. “But a number of people are resonating with the fact of losing somebody, whether it’s a grandparent or another loved one and the struggle with that. To see how Al handled that is inspirational to a lot of them.”
Those who have already read the Digest have found it truly touching. Jim passed along some of the comments he has received:
“Al’s story is really beautiful,” reads one email.
“I read the story about Alvin & Mary. I have to say I feel this story will really touch everyone who reads it,” one reader said in a text.
“I was moved to tears with the renovator’s Christmas story about Al and Mary,” another says, “It was such an inspiration too, that Al held onto his gift of faith throughout the whole ordeal.”
“Christmas can be a happy or a sad time,” Jim says, “That’s why I think having an article that deals with some sadness at Christmas time is relevant too. How do you work through that?”
The preliminary response to the new edition has been an encouragement to Jim and the rest of the production team: “I thought, ‘You know Lord, I think you’re going to do something special with this one.’ We always pray about it and say ‘Lord, this is our attempt to provide something to touch people and to draw them close when people are thinking about you at Christmas time.'”
You can purchase A Christmas Digest from the Power to Change Resource Centre in packages of 25 or packaged with a JESUS Film DVD.
Want to learn more about Power to Change? Visit our Christmas Village to explore the 11 unique ministries in our community and how you can bless them with a gift this Christmas.