Hamburg church’s children make second $5,000 gift to Heifer International

COURTESY PHOTOS

First UMC Hamburg has helped missional giving come alive—for the children of the congregation, and for those who receive their gifts.

By teaching the children about the work of Heifer International, a Little Rock-based nonprofit with the goals of ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth, the church inspired its youngest members to find ways to save and give. Their first fundraiser included lemonade stands, special offerings during worship and earning money by doing household chores. In August 2013, they had $800, so they traveled to Heifer Ranch in Perryville to learn more about the organization and to donate the money—enough to purchase a water buffalo, a heifer, a beehive and a flock of chicks.

At the ranch, the children saw a camel, and decided that their next goal would be to raise $850 to buy a camel for Christmas, as a birthday gift to Jesus.

The next year, their goal grew even more: For Christmas 2014, they raised $5,000 to give Jesus an Ark through Heifer International. Heifer’s website lists the contents of a Gift Ark as “two water buffalos, two cows, two sheep and two goats, along with bees, chicks, rabbits and more.” An Ark helps provide food and income and improves families’ lives.

Natalie Juante (left) and Gracie Riley (right) bring a goat into the sanctuary of First UMC Hamburg on Feb. 12. The goat served as a teaching tool to help children learn about the work of Heifer International on the Sunday that they presented their latest $5,000 gift to the organization.

The children of First UMC Hamburg reached the $5,000 goal a second time by Christmas 2016. This time, instead of traveling to Heifer, they asked a representative to attend worship so they could present the gift there and teach the congregation more about Heifer’s work. On Feb. 12, Lindsey Brown of Heifer International accepted the check and shared information about how the money would be used. A family in the church even brought a goat to worship as a way “to help make Heifer real” for the children who haven’t been able to travel to Heifer Ranch, said the Rev. Greg Comer, the church’s pastor.

Comer expects the children’s fundraising through a special offering each Sunday to continue.

“[This offering] has become such an integral part of our worship that I sincerely doubt if our children will ever stop,” he said. “Some of the faces have changed as our children have grown, but new faces seem happy to take up the mantle.”