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By Mormon Newsroom
Salt Lake City Utah, USA
An effort to encourage people to perform acts of Christlike service during the Christmas season is receiving global attention. Videos produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its “Light the World” Christmas initiative have received nearly 69 million views.
The Church’s “Light the World” initiative was launched November 25 on mormon.org to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and invite people around the world to follow Christ’s example by serving others. The initiative includes a main video produced in 33 languages and a 25-day advent calendar, “In 25 Ways. Over 25 Days.”
The main video has picked up nearly 35 million views, and nearly 31 million video views have been received to date on 25 short videos that offer daily ideas for service. A preview video posted in November garnered 3.5 million views.
Participants have been posting their experiences and sharing the videos on social media channels. Others have been quietly participating in the initiative. Such was the case of a Utah man (name withheld to protect privacy) behind bars who performed a simple act of service by sharing a cherished candy bar with a new prisoner.
The inmate’s family has been mailing him daily service ideas during the initiative, but they weren’t sure how he could respond to the challenge on December 7: “Jesus Fed the Hungry and So Can You.” His mother said, “I wondered if I should send it at all — it made me pretty sad to ask him to share his food when I know he really doesn’t have any to share, and if he did, it would be such a small amount.”
Earlier in the week, the inmate had ordered the candy bar from the commissary with money sent to him by his family for snacks. After looking forward to eating it all week, he decided to give it to the other prisoner who had nothing. In a letter, his family said the “sacrifice” made by their son made him “feel better than he had for a long time.”
The inmate’s mother wrote that the candy bar stands as a symbol for several reasons. “This ‘Light the World’ project is giving me some happiness and the feeling that I can do something for him and myself that is positive,” she said. The mother said it “uncovers [her] gratitude” for her son’s “repentant attitude in his situation and his willingness to be kind in the awful environment he is in.” She added, “Being reminded that no matter how little we might think we have, no matter where we are, or what our situation is, we can always serve and give to others, no matter what.”
“It’s amazing how we can still find ways to be happy and focus on the most important thing, which is our Savior,” she said.
The “Light the World” website is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The Christmas initiative also features billboards in cities around the world, including New York City’s Times Square, and displays in the Church’s English-speaking visitors’ centers and the Mexico City Visitors’ Center.
The Christmas initiative runs through January 1, 2017. Those on social media are encouraged to share their experiences by using the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD.
Last December, the “A Savior Is Born” Christmas video had more than 50 million views. Millions also participated in last spring’s “Follow Him” Easter initiative.
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