Baptist Global Response
By Susan O’Hara
GLEN ALLEN, Va. — Like other 4-year-olds, Aubrey Bennett* looks forward the whole year to Christmas with her family. Unlike other children, on Christmas Aubrey is picking out presents to give to someone else.
Aubrey’s family is teaching her to save money, and she has several money banks. One bank holds tithe money, another for purchasing toys for herself. One bank, however, is reserved for another purpose -- and it is this bank she opens on Christmas Day.
Aubrey and her family carefully count the money inside, eventually coming up with more than $50 worth of quarters, dollar bills and other bits of money. Aubrey had saved throughout the year, putting gift money, chore money and allowance through the slit in the top of the bank.
Several of her cousins also had saved and count their money as well. Then their grandfather, Peter Walker,* matches the amount the children had saved and the family opens up the Baptist Global Response gift catalog.
As a family, they look through the options and pray about how to help people in need.
Aubrey wants to buy animals -- rabbits and chickens. Her cousins also pick out items from the options offered in the catalog: goats, fish, blankets, school books, mosquito nets and more. Walker and his wife select items to give in honor of other relatives.
“My in-laws had this great idea to do something as a family to help our children understand missions and giving and saving through the year,” says Clay Bennett,* Aubrey’s father.
Walker had come up with the idea of giving from the BGR catalog on Christmas and encouraged the children to participate. The family knew BGR catalog items were practical and easily understood. Even a four-year-old can understand that someone in the world might need school supplies or a vegetable garden. Everyone likes the idea of giving a goat or rabbits to a family in need.
Aubrey’s parents explained to her that some children did not have toys. Some don’t even have food. They urged her to save money she could spend on herself, and instead give to children who have less.
“That’s what Jesus would do,” they told her. “That’s what Jesus would want us to do. That’s why Jesus gives us money, so we can help other people.”
And the tender-hearted 4-year-old understood, cheerfully and excitedly saving for others.
On the other side of the world, gifts like those from Aubrey and her cousins have made a lasting impact on less-privileged families. In Indonesia, families receive goats purchased from the catalog.
“[The goats] are key components to income and food generation for families there,” said Jeff Palmer, executive director of BGR. The goats provide milk, meat and fertilizer for gardens.”
In India, FAITH gardens (Food Always In The Home) have been supported through catalog donations, helping families establish small gardens that provide fresh vegetables for home consumption and to sell for added income.
The catalog allows people to purchase items to go toward ministries in agriculture, disaster response, education, health care, micro-enterprise, HIV/AIDS, water sanitation, widow and orphan care, and more. Donors choose specific item categories, and BGR directs the money to the most-needed project in that area.
Catalog donations raise more than money for development work overseas, Palmer says.
“They generate prayer,” Palmer says. “It generates involvement, when people start connecting that way with people in need through Baptist Global Response.”
Aubrey and her family plan to continue the tradition of making BGR catalog purchases a part of their Christmas celebrations. All year, she has been stashing away gift money, bits of her allowance and the quarters given to her for completing chores. When Christmas comes later this month, she will be ready to re-open her bank, see her grandfather match the money, and then choose a specific, simple way to bless someone in need.
Susan O’Hara wrote for Baptist Global Response as a summer intern. You can access the BGR gift catalog by clicking here. A printable catalog with descriptions of ministries can be downloaded by clicking here.