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Giving Gifts that Give

goatIsn’t it great when you can give a gift that lays a foundation for ongoing blessing for years and years to come?

Many people from throughout the Presbyterian Church of Australia gave christmas gifts to the people of Timor Leste last year. Some gave toiletry needs, others gave animals, others gave money to help people buy books and uniforms for their school children.

Let me tell you about the Synod’s plans for goats. (the same principles apply to other gifts as well).

In years gone by, people within the church in Timor Leste have received the gift of a goat, but what does a poor family do with a goat? They seek to meet their most immediate and pressing need of course – they eat it!  Once they have eaten it, to state the obvious, there is ….. no goat! There HAS been a worthwhile benefit – a hungry family has been fed, but there is no long-term economic improvement.

The Synod of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Timor Leste has thought very carefully and prayerfully about how to make the best use of the gifts we have given and decided to try to develop a new programme.

A congregation will be allocated a number of goats. That congregation will form groups made up of several families which will care for each goat.

No individual family will be able to eat the goat because they do not wholly own it and they will therefore be responsible to and accountable to the whole group. The group will not receive their goat until they have built a fence, which will show that they are ready to start to care for their new animal. Each group will allocate tasks for their members.

All being well, in six or twelve months they will be able to sell their fat goat and buy two young goats – one for them to keep, and the other to start another group. They will keep on this way until they own many goats (or pigs or cattle), and each time they make a profit they will share it with the others and give 10% to the local church.

Did you give a goat? No! You really gave a gift of opportunity – opportunity for economic foundation and development. The simple things can make a BIG difference.


We pray that in the future, some people in Timor Leste will look back and remember that in 2013 they received a gift from God’s people in Australia which marked the point in their lives when at long last they were able to build a future for themselves and and their family and to support the work of the local church because someone just gave them a start.

Rob Duncanson

May 2013

There will be another Christmas Catalogue this year.