I can be a selfish and materialistic guy, so this has been a tough many-years-long learning experience for me.
Now that you know I’m a jerk, let’s begin…
A few years ago, I dropped a bombshell and told Rin that I felt God was telling me to not ask for anything for Christmas. I felt very strongly about this and called my parents and grandparents, asking them to NOT get me anything for Christmas either. I was not being a martyr. I simply felt convicted that I needed to concentrate more on giving rather than receiving. The request fell on deaf ears, as my parents and grandparents graciously gave me gifts. Then it occurred to me that my request, while thoughtful in my mind, might actually be robbing people of a blessing they receive from giving.
We’re blessed when we give, right?
The only person who somewhat granted my request that Christmas was Rin. Instead of a traditional gift, she gave me three things: A framed photograph of our favorite wedding photo (taken by my grandpa with a disposable camera), and two chickens.
Let me explain.
Over the past several years, our former church in Springfield, MO — Ridgecrest Baptist Church — partnered with World Vision to bring an incredible interactive exhibit to the city. The exhibit is called “World Vision Experience: AIDS.” During this experience, you learn, through the eyes of four children, what it’s like to deal with AIDS on that continent.
Because of that experience, Rin and I now sponsor three children in Africa: Leetoane, Paul, and Joyce. We receive annual letters, photos and report cards from these beautiful kids and know that our little bit each month ($35) helps them, their families, and their communities. I encourage you to learn more about sponsoring a child.
In addition to that, World Vision introduced us to their Giving Catalog.
For those of you who say, “I’d like to help people at home,” it’s good to know that World Vision assists and feeds the hungry in the U.S. as well.
You need to click around on Catalog and see what a few bucks could do! Here are some examples for one-time gifts under $25:
Rabbits multiply and multiply their blessings! God created rabbits to be among the most prolific animals on earth, making them a terrific gift for an impoverished family. With a gestation period of just 31 days, a pair of rabbits can easily become 50 rabbits within a single year. These offspring can provide food or be sold at market, producing a steady source of extra income.
Here in the U.S., 1 in 5 children lives in poverty. Help restore hope to American families who have been struck by disaster, homelessness or job loss. Send Family Food Kits including nutritious meals like oatmeal, lentil soup or pasta, and a bean and rice casserole.
Give three ducks to a hungry family today and they’ll benefit from hundreds of large, protein-rich eggs throughout the year. Extra eggs and hatched ducklings can be sold to buy medicine or help pay for children’s school tuition.
Job training for a woman frees her children from hunger. Your gift will provide a lifeline of hope for a woman or older girl struggling to support herself or her children. You’ll supply job skills and business training so she can make a good living in a field such as tailoring, jewelry-making, baking, or dairy farming.
Chickens give children and families a lasting source of nutrition and income. Fresh eggs raise the levels of protein and other nutrients in a family’s diet, and the sale of extra eggs and chickens can pay for vital basics. Your gift of chickens will also naturally multiply to impact generations of children. Each family that receives chickens can sell the offspring for extra income or share them with other families in need. Chicks require little money, space, or food to thrive and grow — making them an ideal business venture for a single mom or vulnerable family.
Goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Goats also give a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market.A healthy dairy goat can give up to 16 cups of milk a day. Goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk and is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients that growing children need. Goats are practical animals — flourishing in harsh climates while producing valuable manure to fertilize crops and vegetable gardens.
There are so many ways to give through World Vision! One of my favorites is the fish pond!
I hope you see where this is going. It really doesn’t take much to help other people in some way. And no, World Vision, is not the only way to do this. All of this type of giving can be done in your own community. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, it’s sometimes easier to give something to someone half the world away than it is to walk across the street and give a homeless person a $25 gift card to McDonalds.
I encourage you to give this Christmas.
Tomorrow, I will post about Pony Bird – a place that’s become near and dear to our family.