It’s that time of year again when Gospel for Asia (GFA) and many other faith-based organizations (FBO) publish their Christmas gift catalogs. Two of the seemingly ubiquitous gifts available are chickens and goats.I know what you are thinking. “Chickens and goats? How can chickens and goats really have any impact?” Altruistically speaking, we tend to see more value in things like Bibles, blankets, sewing machines, pull carts or rickshaws. I know this because I had thought that way for years. I was wrong.
My mistake was that I was perceiving the value of chickens and goats from a Western worldview. A chicken has little value to me, and my neighbors would not appreciate me owning a goat (nor would the Home Owners Association by-laws permit it).
Consider, however, the value of chickens or goats for a family living in generational poverty in Asia. When you have absolutely nothing, a couple of chickens or goats is a big deal. They are gifts that can be life-altering.
GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog says:
“The gift of chickens supplements a family’s income and often helps a family get on its feet financially. Families can eat or sell the nutritious eggs, or they can hatch chicks to increase their flock and later have more eggs and chicks to sell. These birds of a feather multiply quickly, taste just like chicken and are really ‘cheep!'”
Another FBO says:
“With a pair of chickens and a goat, you’ll provide a steady supply of eggs, milk, and protein to feed children and help families . . . Chickens are equally easy to raise and will naturally multiply to impact generations of children.”
If this sounds like marketing propaganda, think again. The Population Council is an international, not-for-profit NGO that was established in 1952 by John D. Rockefeller III with funds primarily from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The Council conducts programs to the most vulnerable people in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. It conducts detailed research to ensure the effectiveness of their programs.
In addition to addressing the overarching issue of poverty, the project focused specifically on developing sustainable approaches to help delay childhood marriage.
That raises another question. How can giving chickens and goats help reduce childhood marriages?
The plan was to offer chickens or goats to families as the significant, empowering element of the program. It had already been apparent that education alone was inadequate to change the cultural mindset or the dilemma faced by families with insufficient resources that, therefore, would sell their daughters into a forced marriage.
The empowerment to effectively reduce childhood marriage was the gifting of chickens and goats.
Because the chickens and goats provided a source of income, the results indicated that girls between the ages of 12 and 17 were far less likely (by two-thirds) to be offered in marriage during the time of the project. Similar results were achieved in Tanzania.
Gospel for Asia does not require a similar commitment from the families to whom you donate chickens and goats. GFA-supported workers give these gifts to demonstrate the love of Jesus to “the least of these” and provide those families with a source of income.
Because our objective is to transform one community at a time, our ministry through our partners in Asia takes a holistic approach within each community. We help them to realize that there is hope for every man, woman and child in that community. Our field partners live in or regularly visit those communities to create an environment of hope, love, education and enablement for the entire community to prosper and grow.
To them, we are the hands and feet of the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The gifts of chickens or goats are just one of the ways you can enable us to be His representatives in the villages that are most in need.
Chickens and goats may not change your life, but they can make a radical transformation for the poor in Asia. When you give, and when you realize the impact of chicken and goats, you may discover that the Lord is transforming your heart and mind as well.
- World Vision, Gift Catalog
- The Population Council, Building an Evidence Base to Delay Marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa
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