Addison Road singer encourages fans to “give a goat” this Christmas

Addison Road poster
Jenny Simmons helps promote World Concern's work as she tours.

When Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons takes the stage, she makes it her mission to encourage her audience with stories and songs of hope. Her winter tour, A Night of Stories, aims to engage people with the idea that they’re part of God’s story of hope and redemption.

“Each one of us has a beautiful calling to be a part of the story,” said Jenny, who weaves stories of personal struggles and perseverance in with songs from the band’s latest album, “Stories.”

But she takes her convictions one step further, encouraging fans to take part in ministry, helping others and giving generously. A passionate supporter of World Concern, Jenny shares the Global Gift Guide video during her shows and provides copies of the guide, a donation jar and even displays a small Christmas tree she decorated with tiny goats, water spouts and other ornaments symbolizing the life-changing gifts found in the catalog.

“It truly is better to give than to receive,” said Jenny, who asked her blog readers to give a goat for her birthday in November. “There is joy that comes in pouring ourselves out in little ways or big ways. It enhances our spiritual life.”

Jenny says she “fell in love” with World Concern while researching our work to help promote the 44-Cent Cure on the radio in Dallas. “The first thing that caught my attention was this idea of being able to reach communities that are so remote and so poverty stricken that others can’t reach them,” she said. “I thought of scriptures that say to go to the ends of the earth. I thought, oh wow, they have found the ends of the earth and gone there.”

Considering herself somewhat of a social policy buff, Jenny appreciates World Concern’s commitment to long-term change. “World Concern walks alongside communities. The truth is, dumping money into communities and leaving is inefficient. It has to be sustainable, real change,” she said, citing education, clean water and elevating the status of women as ways that can help change the future of a village.

“The very last words Jesus said were to go to the ends of the earth and share … we are to care for the widows and orphans. He went to leper colonies and touched people who had never been touched. He loves the unlovable, the untouchables, prostitutes, liars and thieves … it’s a beautiful picture of what he’s called us to do,” she explained.

Jenny Simmons
Addison Road singer Jenny Simmons.

Jenny strives to live a life of service and sacrifice, paraphrasing humanitarian Katie Davis in her mission: “I want to make a difference, no matter how small, and I want to love so hard and work so hard for the good of God’s people that I fall asleep each night filthy and exhausted,” she says. “It’s not always perfect, but that’s okay, because somewhere in the course of that day, I followed God’s call to love people well.”

The Global Gift Guide helps her put her mission into practice as she shares Christmas songs and stories. She hopes others will follow in her footsteps, giving life-changing, meaningful gifts this Christmas.

“What do I want for Christmas? $200 worth of makeup would be awesome,” she said. “But what I want more are things that last and matter eternally.”

Dates and locations for Jenny Simmons’ Night of Stories Christmas Tour can be found here.

Shop World Concerns’ Global Gift Guide online here.

Our own goat gift!

Through our Global Gift Guide, and with the help of our donors, we’ve given goats to needy children and families for years – enabling them to have nutritious milk, and earn an income. But until today, we’ve always been on the giving end of things …

Our team that is responding to the drought in Northeastern Kenya and Somalia visited a town called Amuma, about five miles from the Somali border where we are building water projects. The town has no water source, so we are trucking water in to meet the immediate need. But with hopes of rain coming soon, we are repairing and improving a large water pan, which will be filled by the rain and sustain the community for up to four months.

World Concern staff members receive a goat as a gift!
World Concern staff members with their gift from a grateful community we're helping.

The team was there today to select the contractor from the community that will do this work. Rather than bringing workers in from the outside, we’re involving the community to make the decision. We see this as their project, and therefore engage them in the process. The team met with the chief, elders and counselor (local politician), then with a representation of the community. Sealed quotes were opened in their presence (a very transparent process), and all parties signed an agreement that they would be a part of the process and were happy with what was happening.

After visiting the site of the project, the community members were so happy, they presented the World Concern staff with a gift – a goat!

They said, “Not since independence (1963), has any organization ever been so consistent and transparent” with them. They were so happy we are working with them, coming in early to ask questions and learn from them, finding ways to keep the work in the community and allowing them to participate and to make decisions – all in an honest and transparent way.

The team was truly humbled and honored to receive such an expression of gratitude from the community of Amuma.

Learning to live generously

Chenal Valley youth group.
The Chenal Valley Church youth group gave $4,500 to help poor kids in other countries.

Kids are so amazing. We just received a check for $4,500 from the 30-member youth group at Chenal Valley Church in Little Rock, AR. The letter below tells how and why this donation was sent. But the reasons are deeper than the letter states. Their Facebook page provides some great resources, including these verses about why we give.

Zechariah 7:9-10, James 1:27,

2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 1 Timothy 6:17

I encourage you to look them up, but here are a few from the 2 Corinthians passage:

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:14-15

Here is the letter from their youth group:

Dear World Concern,

In December, our youth group created and participated in something we called the One Gift Campaign. We challenged kids to help those in need by asking their parents to scratch one gift off their Christmas list and donate that money to the One Gift Campaign instead. We had several donors offer to match their donations, so everything the kids gave was matched at an 8:1 ratio, up to $500. They hit their target goal, so we are happy to be able to send you a check for $4,500. Not bad for a youth group of 30!

One of the cool things about the One Gift Campaign is that after the money was raised, the kids were the ones who got to decide how it would be allocated. I pointed them toward your website, had them research the different ways they could give through World Concern.org, and then let them decide where the money would go.

I send you this check with the request that you follow their divisions as closely as possible. Thanks for all you are doing to meet the enormous needs in our hurting world. They asked that the money be divided in the following way:

$600 latrines

$500 barnyards

$1,000 toward machine dug wells

$795  five health packages

$720 children sent to school

$500 shares of a village school

$300 desks

$85 parasite medication (44-Cent Cure)

In Him,

Aaron Kirkpatrick, Youth and Family Minister

 

Thank you for making 2010 amazing!

Children in Haiti received "Kids' Healing Kits," one part of a large response that has helped more than 100,000 people after the earthquake.

This past year was a mixture of tragedy and triumph in the world of humanitarian aid. It began with one of the worst disasters of our time. As eyes were glued to the news coverage of the massive earthquake in Haiti, hearts were moved to help. Donations came pouring in. The response was overwhelming, and it renewed our faith in the amazing generosity of people.

World Concern, being on the front lines in Haiti, went to work. There was food and water to be distributed, tarps to be hung, and medical supplies to be delivered. Then, there were, and still are, lives to be rebuilt.

The response in Haiti was a huge part of 2010, both in terms of donations and accomplishments. But it wasn’t everything World Concern did with your help. There were projects completed in numerous impoverished countries, and new ones started. There were children educated and protected, wells dug, fields planted, houses built and jobs created. In all, we’ve reached nearly 6 million people with assistance.

We praise God for all that has been accomplished. As we reflect on 2010 and look ahead to 2011, we also want to thank you. Without our donors, none of this would be possible. You are truly partners in this work.

Here’s a look back at just a few of the amazing, creative ways people gave in 2010:

  • A kindergartner raised $3,641 for Haiti earthquake relief.
  • A group of inner-city children sold lemonade and cookies to build a house in Haiti.
  • A teenager gave up his birthday to help others in need.
  • Families decided to forego more “stuff” for Christmas and gave meaningful, life-changing gifts.
  • Bloggers dedicated space to making a difference in the world.
  • A young donor sends a beautiful letter with her donation, entrusting us to help others with it.

In all of this, please take joy in what you’ve done with us. You played an essential role in 2010, and we pray you join us in our quest to ease suffering in the coming year.

Thank you and happy New Year!

– The World Concern Team

How one family brings more meaning to gift giving

Sarah Carpenter’s nephew Stephen is 19 years old and in college, but he still enjoys receiving Christmas gifts from his aunt, knowing they will fill a vital need for someone living in poverty.

Ever since they were young, Sarah has given her niece and nephews, as well as other family members, gifts from World Concern’s Global Gift Guide. Over the years, she has discovered creative ways to match gifts to individual interests or even family holiday themes.

Sarah and her nephew.
Sarah and her nephew Stephen.

“When they were little, I loved giving the kids the privilege of picking something themselves,” said Sarah. “I told them I will provide the money and you pick the gift.”

One year, Stephen saw a picture of people fishing with a net in the Global Gift Guide. He related to that because he was learning to fish himself. So Sarah stocked a fish pond in Bangladesh in honor of her nephew for his gift that year and gave him a photo of a man fishing with a net in a pond World Concern had helped him stock. “He posted it on a bulletin board by his desk and kept it there all year,” recalled Sarah.

As an adult, Stephen has continued to help others and make a difference in the world. He worked in a South American village, serving the poor, and spent a summer at Oxford studying the conflicts in the Congo.

“He’s grown into a lovely person,” said Sarah, who hopes her Global Gift Guide Christmas presents were some of the many influences in his life that gave him his passion for helping others.

Sarah has come up with other creative ways to honor family members with gifts from the guide, like the year their family orchard in Yakima became the theme of their celebration. Can you guess what her relatives received from her? A share of an orchard in a poor village. And for the teachers in her life, she’s chosen education related gifts, such as school uniforms and classroom supplies so students in rural areas can attend school.

“I’m conscious of how much all of us have to make our way through the piles of stuff we’ve accumulated,” said Sarah. “I think others are happy to receive gifts that don’t add to their clutter and that honor something they’re interested in.”

Shop the Global Gift Guide online at globalgiftguide.worldconcern.org.

Goats and other gifts enter the blogosphere

Our Global Gift Guide has been getting shout outs from bloggers, Facebook fans and Twitter users about creative ways to give gifts that matter. It’s like having our own team of social media elves!

Here are some of our favorite posts promoting alternative gift giving. Know of any others? Contact us.

  1. Rose Duryee, a missionary in Spain and avid blogger, used her love for the Oregon Ducks as a springboard to promote ducks as a gift for a struggling family in an impoverished country in her Nov. 26 post.  “As much as I love my ducks, they can’t feed the hungry, save lives, or give a struggling family an income,” wrote Rose.
  2. Blogger Marla Taviano holds a hand-made banner.
    Blogger and author Marla Taviano is selling these hand-made banners on her blog to raise money to buy a goat through the Global Gift Guide. Photo courtesy of MarlaTaviano.com.

    Sports blogger Phil Caldwell took the Oregon Ducks connection a little further, but successfully shared a great message on his Bleacher Report blog: money spent on new uniforms for every game could be better used to dig wells in Kenya or provide solar cookers for women in Chad.  (Disclaimer: World Concern has no opinion regarding how many uniforms any football team should have.)

  3. Jennifer Hanson declared to her readers that “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is buying a goat for a family in poverty.” She walked her talk by hosting her own elf party, inviting guest to dress up as elves and bring $5 to share some yummy treats and watch the movie Elf. Their pooled donations were enough to buy a complete goat package (goat, vaccinations and a pen) for a family in a country such as Haiti or Bangladesh.
  4. Author and blogger Marla Taviano is selling adorable, one-of-a-kind fabric banners on her blog in order to buy a goat from the Global Gift Guide. The photos of the banners and her family are precious!

In addition to blog posts, we’re thrilled to see tweets, re-tweets, and Facebook posts about creative ways to give gifts that matter this Christmas.

If you’re online and a fan of our life-changing work, please help us spread Christmas cheer to some of the poorest countries in the world by sharing the Global Gift Guide with your friends!

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

Teen forgoes birthday gifts to help others

Jordan with birthday cake.
Jordan Travis chose to forego birthday gifts and asked his friends to donate to World Concern instead.

Jordan Travis invited his friends to join him in celebrating his entrance into the teenage years with a huge game of Bunco for his 13th birthday. But instead of gifts for himself, Jordan asked his friends to help kids and families in need through World Concern, inviting them to make a $5 or $10 donation toward two causes highlighted in the Global Gift Guide: the 44-Cent Cure (deworming medication and vitamin A) and training for pastors of rural churches in Bangladesh, Bolivia and Kenya.

What would inspire a young teen to forego video games, sports equipment and other things most kids his age wish for? According to his parents, it’s the power of God.

“Just wanted you to know that the Holy Spirit, through your ministry, is lighting a fire in the hearts of kids,” wrote Perry and Lisa Travis in a letter accompanying Jordan’s donation.

To know that World Concern is not only transforming the lives of those we serve in poor communities around the world, but also the lives of donors like Jordan is humbling, to say the least. It’s awe-inspiring to hear how God is using this amazing work to impact all ages, from all walks of life, in so many places, near and far.

Jordan and his friends sent $265, which will cure 466 kids from the suffering of intestinal parasites, plus equip a pastor at a rural church with training, Bibles and Sunday school supplies.  This gift will last longer than any “stuff” would, and will spread God’s love to uncountable people who need His touch so desperately.

Thank you, Jordan, for listening to that still, small voice prompting your heart to give. And thank you to all who are making a difference in the lives of the poor this holiday season with meaningful, life-changing gifts.

“They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:45

Give A Goat – A Goat Donation Works!

This is Thermogene, a widow in Haiti. Give A Goat and help someone like her. Because someone decided to donate a goat, she has reason to smile.
This is Thermogene, a widow in Haiti. Give A Goat and help someone like her. Because someone decided to donate a goat, she has reason to smile.

Hope for many people has four legs and goes “Maaa!” It is time again to Give A Goat!

I bring this up because it is time once again to consider goats, and to invite them into our lives. I will buy several this year, even though I live in a city, and have nowhere for them to roam. I will buy several as Christmas presents for family, and turn them over to people who desperately need them. Give A Goat! It is truly Humanitarian Aid.

I recently took a trip with World Concern to visit Haiti, a country filled with wonderful people who struggle to eat, learn and find work. Then, last summer, three hurricanes and a tropical storm further ravaged the country.

I met families in Haiti who live on resources that would baffle most people. It is not unusual for someone to stake their livelihoods on a couple of goats, but that is exactly what people I met are forced to do.

I met a sweet grandmother in Haiti named Thermogene who lost everything – EVERYTHING – she owns in the hurricanes, including goats, and she was left without an income. For Thermogene, an income comes from raising a few animals, including goats. And the storm killed every animal.

When I met Thermogene, it was about 100 degrees. I was hot. It was dusty. She was dressed in her best clothes. She was ecstatic. What in the world would make this woman smile so much?

Someone decided to give a goat to her through World Concern’s Global Gift Guide.

Thermogene received two goats from World Concern, and with it she will be able to sell milk and sell the kids, when her goats have babies. People who donated through World Concern also gave her fruit trees.

These are such simple gifts. It is easy to donate – to Give A Goat. To Thermogene and so many others, goats provide life.

Check out goats and the rest of the Global Gift Guide at www.worldconcern.org/ggg