Gardeners are a special breed. We like dirt, being dirty, working hard, and are fascinated by things that most folks wouldn’t even notice. I think it’s also fair to say that gardeners are a pretty generous bunch; always eager to share spare bulbs or divisions or the excesses of a bountiful harvest.
As a gardener and a Christian, I was thrilled when I came across a unique opportunity to give back through Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan’s Purse is headed by Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) and its stated mission is to “provide spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world,” in the name of Jesus Christ. The manner in which SP accomplishes this task is exciting, I think. Instead of simply writing a check to the organization for it to distribute as it sees fit, SP has developed a giving catalog, in which donors can choose to donate to various projects or causes that it oversees. Imagine my joy when I discovered that some of these projects fall under the category of “Animals and Agriculture.”
That’s right, SP allows you to donate to projects ranging from beekeeping to buying draft animals. Other items include fishing boats, fruit trees, and training, tools, and equipment. For a complete list of items check out this link. You can also view some videos about this particular aspect of SP’s ministry here.
A secular organization, called Heifer International, does something similar. Founded by Dan West, a member of the Church of the Brethren, Heifer International seeks to “turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity.” In essence, Heifer’s model is based on the “teach a man to fish” principle, in which people in poor regions receive the donations, along with training, with the expectation that they will pass along the resources and knowledge they have received.
Like Samaritan’s Purse, Heifer utilizes a catalog model for its donations. Donors can give to projects that include providing goats or water buffaloes to those that encourage sustainable farming. For a full list of donation items, click here.
In sum, both Samaritan’s Purse and Heifer International offer some great opportunities for steward gardeners to give back. While I think Heifer International has good options and it clearly seeks to address some of the same physical needs as Samaritan’s Purse, it fails to address deeper spiritual needs; namely, the need for a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ. For that reason, I’ll be sticking with Samaritan’s Purse.
Are you aware of any similar causes? Let me know!