Thursday, November 15, 2012

Heifer International Living Gift Market (or, Barnum & Bailey meets Old MacDonald in a Crowded Moroccan Bazaar)

Me with Rebekah channeling Miss Piggy
One of the things Rebekah does best at our church (First Presbyterian of Brandon) is to help people find their passion and then encourage the ministry to develop.
The Heifer InternationalLiving Gift Market is a great example.
Wednesday evening – once again – our fellowship hall pretty-much turned into a zoo. Different ministry teams sponsored various animal booths, literally scores of people had a stake in the event, and probably a couple of hundred folk showed up.
Generosity can be lots of fun!
“The best thing about this,” said someone who was new to the event, “is seeing how much fun people are having while writing large checks!”
Our church sponsors several mission events during the year, but this one is consistently the biggest. Last night well over $15,000 was raised during two hours (that’s three “Arks” in Heifer lingo), and that number will increase to over $20,000 by the time we send Heifer International a check around Christmas.
MAKING THE NEWS: This week I wrote the following article forNovember’s edition of The Christian Voice (also, check my facebook page later today for more pictures):
The Chick-Fil-A cow talking business with the Presbyterian Pig
“God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:25)
Every two years First Presbyterian Church of Brandon turns into a virtual barnyard.
This year’s “Alternative Holiday Gift Market” (organized by Terrie Morrison and Dawn Trattner) will take place November 14, 5:30-7:30. Everyone is welcome.
In an evening of well-managed chaos, over $15,000 will be raised on behalf of Heifer International. Heifer ( places living animals in impoverished communities, provides training in animal husbandry, and puts people to work to transform their economy.
Pastor Tim making nice with the Llama
COSTUMES: Picture pastor Rebekah Maul in an inflatable pig suit. or youth in giant bee costumes, or a herd of three-year-old water buffalos bellowing at everyone in sight.
Each ministry area takes a different animal, and by November 14 the church looks like “Barnum & Bailey meets Old MacDonald in an crowded Moroccan Bazaar.”
Chickens. Rabbits. Heifers. LLamas. Goats. Pigs. Bees. Water buffalo. Sheep. Chicks. Ducks. Steady hands inscribe customized gift-cards in calligraphy.
  • “Dear uncle Dan, this year an old-goat was sent to a family in Honduras in your name!”
  • “Congratulations on another baby. A trio of rabbits just arrived in Afghanistan in your honor.”
  • “We know you like to pig out over the holidays, so we named two big fat hogs after you and sent them to Guatemala to help start a new industry.
The Petersons went home with an ant farm!
GIVING WITH JOY: The fun for church groups comes in raising consciousness, purchasing real animals, and knowing exactly where the critters are going.
The genius of First Presbyterian’s approach is the competition. Will the men’s breakfast goats outdo the associate pastor and his Lamas? Will the senior pastor’s pigs outsell the mission team’s rabbits? Will the youth’s bees raise more money than the worship ministry’s campaign to plant trees?
The Mann family considering the pig booth
Heifer International’s regional representative wanted to know how such a small church is able to raise so much money. The Presbyterians replied with the words of Jesus. “Come and see.”
“No-one else does it like this,” the Heifer rep said. “Your members appear to be happy writing big checks and forgoing traditional Christmas gifts!”
Hope is not only fun and contagious; hope is plenty generous, too.
Rebekah debriefing at the end with (worm vendor) Peggie Roy
The replenishment of hope is fundamental to Heifer’s philosophy. Hope for indigenous peoples who simply need a jump-start. Consequently, most animals are pregnant the day they arrive, so the first-born calf, piglet, rabbit, peep etc. extends the hope as a living gift to another family.
“Everyone is welcome November 14,” Rebekah Maul said. “Just bring a generous heart and an open spirit.”
(Derek Maul)

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