Thursday, November 8, 2012

'Tis the Season or Teach a man to fish or something like that...

The other day we received our Heifer International gift catalog.

Several years ago, the gals in our ladies' Bible study group pitched in and made a gift of some animals to a family in a third world developing country.  We gave the money to Heifer and they purchased the animal (was it a goat?  Some chicks?  I forget) and gave it to people in need, along with training and support.

The idea is that if you give a family some food, in a few meals it will be gone, but if you give a family  means to raise food, not only will they be able to support themselves, but will soon be able to help produce for others in need.

Back in 2008 the kids and I were made aware of the plight of the christian Indians who lived in the Khandamal district of India.  An extremist group was inflamed by power-hungry politicians and went on a rampage, burning down every single church in that state, murdering, beheading pastors, and tearing down homes of the Christian believers.  It was non-discriminatory when it came to denominations.  Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Assembly of God; didn't matter, they were all affected.  Even many children were doused with gasoline and burned. 

Our family began to pray for the many widows, asking God to provide for them a means to support their children, in a dignified fashion. 

During this time our church made us aware of a particular organization called Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee.  A group on another continent working to offer dignity to widows.  Jonathan Golden was the visionary behind a movement to bring together widows of faction tribes in blood-bathed Rwanda, offering a place for them to sell their coffee beans at a fair price.  An opportunity for these woman to be able to work with dignity, in a way that would bring about reconciliation.  Over the years, this organization has grown, and the money, earned fairly by the farmers, has brought about improved working conditions, better equipment, basically, a way to work with dignity and pride. 

We loved buying those coffee beans, knowing that each cup was a part of making a tiny difference in the life of a woman somewhere in another part of the world. 

Little did I know that not too many years later, actually only a couple of years later, I would find myself in a similar spot.  Granted, when my husband died, I did own our property free and clear.  And had animals that provided for our meat and dairy and offered income producing potential.  I also had a very small "hobby" baking operation, using a tiny kitchen mixer to knead the dough and our kitchen oven to bake the bread.  But it wasn't enough.  Not enough to produce an income that would provide for a single mom and 5 kids.

After Philip's death, we were showered with gifts.  It was shocking, humbling and amazing.  Big gifts.  Gifts that enabled me to pay off the debt we had and gifts that enabled me to buy used professional equipment for a bakery.  Giant oven.  Great big  mixers.  Lots more grain.  Reliable vehicle for carting things to market. 

I weep even now to think that God used so many people in our family's life to bring about the means for me to be able to work with dignity to provide for  my kids.  Things are different now.  I don't have a cow or goats to milk to provide milk.  But I do have bread and grain and enough income to buy milk from a woman down the road! 

As the solicitations for charity come pouring into the mailbox, even now, before Thanksgiving comes along, I will be giving thanks for the people who were so generous to me and my children.  Who continue to be generous to me and my children in many ways.  And will hope that we can be a part of passing on the good.  Isn't it amazing that we have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else's life??? 

As I read through the articles in the Heifer magazine/catalog, I felt inspired to share with you guys.  I hope to have the kids help me raise some money to buy someone a goat and a hive of bees (Milk and Honey!!!) for Christmas for some single mom in another country.  Heifer is a great way to do it.  There are several other groups who go by different names, but do the same things.  Southern Baptists have been doing this kind of work for decades.  World Vision is another group.  I think we will also order coffee to sell in the bakery from Land of a Thousand Hills.  You know how I love my coffee!  Wouldn't it be nice to know that the extra dollar or two we have to spend per bag would be going straight to some hard-working family, instead of a shiny corporation?  Perhaps you know someone who just needs a little boost to get their business off the ground.  Buying their handcrafted goodies for Christmas gifts, or their beautiful postcards for holiday greetings might cost more than the package of 150 from the super store, but the benefit would be worth the cost! 

Most of you who read this blog have been taking these steps far longer than my family.  Some of us have very limited incomes and not enough extra to do anything extravagant.  So please, don't think this post is an effort to guilt anyone into doing something they can't afford.  I hope you will see it as an encouragement!  If we are intentional, even tiny little gifts can make significant differences.  We are so bombarded this time of year with solicitations for help.  I hope we won't be numbed to the point of missing the opportunities that come along that are divinely presented.  If you think that what you have to give is just way too small to count, ask me to share with you the story of Nora's $1 gift that I took with me to India and was able to use to purchase milk for over 10 kids who were victims of the Khandamal tragedy.  I will be praying that God would show me and my kids what we have to offer that would enable someone else to be equipped to work and provide for their family with dignity.

PS Just so you know, this morning at our breakfast table we offered thanks for the people who made it possible for me to have a job, milling grains and baking.  I regularly give thanks for you who gave to us to make it possible for me to have the equipment to increase the volume of goods I sell.  I pray for you to be blessed!  For what you gave to us to be returned to you a hundred and thousand fold.  I am so grateful. 


Christi H said...

Beautiful...Love you my Friend! :) said...

I love you too!!! Miss u. Please come visit!

zif2 said...

that's beautiful and fantastic post thanks for sharing such nice information

balika-vadhu- said...

so nice blogger i like all the posts

Quigg Lawrence said...

Awesome and TRUE!