[B]y such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, . . . “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

One of the first studies Tom and I led when we started our weekly adult study groups here at FPC focused on Zealous Love: A Practical Guide to Social Justice by Mike and Danae Yanoski. In studying that book’s chapters on “Hunger” and “Lack of Education,” we discovered Beatrice’s Goat by Paige McBrier. It is the story of a Ugandan girl who wanted to go to school, but whose family was too poor. Her life changed when her mother received a goat through Heifer International. The goat provided milk; the mother sold the milk and sent Beatrice to school. This story started us on annual giving to Heifer International.

The first year we gave each set of grandchildren a copy of Beatrice’s Goat for Christmas and contributed a goat in honor of each family. The next year we gave flocks of chickens, along with child-friendly books about how chickens help families make a living. In succeeding years, we have contributed pigs, honeybees, a llama, and a water buffalo. The grandchildren have gotten appropriate books about the annual animal and why having it (or a flock or a hive) can make a big difference for a family. In the process, all of us are learning a lot about geography, problems facing people around the world, and how we can help people we’ve never met.

So far we have done the selecting, but—with the oldest of our grandchildren now able to do a little Internet research—we’re going to ask each family to choose their animal(s) this year. We hope this will become a custom they will continue long after we are gone: giving not only to family and friends but also to people around the world whom they don’t know, but who could use their help.

Prayer: Gracious God, Lord of All, open our eyes to the needs of people around the world. Prompt our hearts to respond with simple gifts that will make a big difference—not just at Christmas, but whenever there is need. 

Nan McDaniel

About the Contributor

Nan McDaniel is a retired District 7 educator who currently teaches in the Bible Alive! Sunday School Class and Tuesday-Thursday adult studies.