I'm blessed to live in a free country. I'm blessed with a wonderful family. I'm blessed with a warm, dry house. I'm blessed with bountiful food.
Take a minute right now to count your blessings...
...and now take a minute to think about the fact that nearly half of the world's population (more than 3 billion people) live on less than $2.50 a day, and half of them are living on less than $1.25 a day.
When I was a young child, my parents became disenchanted with the materialism of Christmas. They questioned why they were spending money buying gifts for each other--gifts that they didn't need and maybe didn't even want--when one out of every two children in the world are living in poverty.
Acts 20:35 says that "it is more blessed to give than to receive", so instead of giving gifts to our family and friends at Christmas my family donates to charities and sponsors children in third-world countries.
This year I would like to challenge you to ask your family and friends to donate to charities in your honour instead of buying gifts for you.
There are hundreds of charities that you can donate to this Christmas, and I've complied a list of three charities that offer dairy-themed gifts to start you off.
Heifer International believes in passing on the gift, and so when you donate to a family in need they are required to pass on the gift to other families. For example, the family that receives your gift of a cow will be required to donate one of her heifers to another family. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving!
Heifer International has quite a few dairy themed gifts, ranging in price from $120 for a goat or sheep to $5,000 for a gift ark that blesses a whole community. This charity is unique because they offer the option of buying a share for many of their gifts as well, with prices ranging from $10 to $150. Maybe you can't afford a whole goat this year, but can you spare the $10 needed to buy a share?
Visit Heifer International's farm animal gift catalogue and choose from the following dairy-themed gifts: goat, cow, water buffalo, or sheep. Or you can choose one of their gift baskets: gift ark, joy to the world, milk menagerie, or cheeses of the world.
As you can guess from the name, Gospel for Asia is focused on ministering to the poor in India and other Asian countries. They are often my charity of choice because they do not deduct anything from the gifts that they receive to cover administrative expenses.
Gospel for Asia has several dairy-themed gifts, ranging in price from $130 for a pair of sheep to $460 for a water buffalo. Gospel for Asia allows you to enter the dollar value of your gift, so you can give what you can afford.
Visit Gospel for Asia's from the stable gift catalogue, and choose from the following dairy-themed gifts: a pair of goats, water buffalo, camel, a pair of sheep, or cow.
World Vision is one of the first charities that our family worked with, first by sponsoring two children: a girl in Lebanon and a boy in Ghana.
World Vision has several dairy-themed gifts as well, with prices ranging from $100 for a goat to $1,200 to fill a whole stable.
Visit World Vision's animal collection gift catalogue, and choose from the following dairy-themed gifts: cow, goat, goat + 2 hens and a rooster, sheep, or fill a stable.
I'd love to learn about the charities that you donate to, so share a link to your favourite charity in the comments below.