This article was posted to the LDS Newsroom and Contributed By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer:
The Church is launching a new initiative designed to reach millions of people around the world this December.
The monthlong initiative—“He Is the Gift”—is designed to share the message of Heavenly Father’s love, which He demonstrated in giving the sacred gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Organized by the Missionary Department of the Church, the initiative is being promoted through multiple mediums such as social media, displays in visitors’ centers, member and missionary tools, online paid promotion, and billboard and video displays in New York City’s Times Square. The Times Square advertisements will be seen throughout the month, including during New Year’s Eve festivities.
“Christmas is a time of reflection on what we can become because of God’s sacred gift,” said Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Missionary Department. “As we discover the gift, we learn of the immeasurable love of God and our absolute need for a Savior. As we embrace the gift, we strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and our desire to become more like Him. As we share the gift, we follow in the Master’s footsteps, who invited all to hear His message.”
On December 7, the Church’s “He Is the Gift” initiative will be on the masthead of YouTube in seven countries, with a potential audience of 220 million viewers. Those countries are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil. The masthead will feature a short video and an invitation to visit the website christmas.mormon.org.
On the website, visitors can view a longer version of the YouTube video designed with the theme “He Is the Gift.” The video reminds viewers about the commercial and stressful nature of the Christmas season and then transitions to images that highlight the true meaning of Christmas.
Both the website and video are available in 20 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Armenian, Cebuano, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, and Ukrainian.
The website also contains pages that tell the Christmas story, show #ShareTheGift ideas, and give links to additional resources focused on Jesus Christ. Members are encouraged to share content through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. In addition, there is a social media aggregator on the site to share member-generated content in several languages, including English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
“We hope the members do three things with this initiative,” said Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Missionary Department. “First, that they deepen their discovery of the Savior personally. Second, that they deepen their embrace of the Savior and His teachings personally. And finally, that they share the gift with others.”
Members are encouraged to participate in the initiative and be creative in how they share content. In the United States distribution of the Ensign magazine, nine pass-along cards were inserted for members to share with friends. All English-, Spanish-, and Portuguese-speaking missions have pass-along cards available in their respective languages as well through the missionaries.
Fifteen Church visitors’ centers in the United States and overseas, including Temple Square, are offering guests “He Is the Gift” displays to enjoy during the Christmas season. Other locations include Hill Cumorah; Hyde Park Chapel; Idaho Falls; Independence, Missouri; Laie, Hawaii; London England Temple; Los Angeles; Mesa, Arizona; Mexico City; New Zealand; Oakland, California; Park City, Utah; Portland, Oregon; and St. George, Utah.
Overall, members should follow the counsel of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from his remarks in the “He Is the Gift” pamphlet: “I invite each of us to flood the earth with the messages of righteousness and truth found in the He Is the Gift initiative. Visit christmas.mormon.org to find inspiring content to help discover, embrace, and share the gift of God’s love for us, made manifest in His Only Begotten Son. By using the hashtag #ShareTheGift, we can sweep the earth with timeless—and timely—messages of the Savior Jesus Christ.”