Saturday, August 21, 2010

35 Cows

I visited Nemecio last night. We met earlier this year when we needed a piece of property in San Lorenzo to build an orphanage on. He and his family are Christians living here in Cochabamba; however they’re both from, and continue raise cattle in, San Lorenzo one of the most remote sites in Bolivia. IOU was able to purchase a beautiful 5 acre building site from Nemecio for our next set of homes. I’ve always been impressed with his gifts in business and the generosity he displays with both his money and his time. When we first met, Nemecio had suggested we raise cattle to support the children. I quickly dismissed the idea because I’m more comfortable with manufacturing and sales; however, he brought it up again last night. He asked what the monthly expenses were for an orphanage and I replied $1000. On his iPhone he banged out a few numbers, and confirmed it would be 10 orphans per home and then showed me the answer…35! He continued, “Miguel you only need 35 vacas per child”

Nemecio purchases year old calves from local breeders for $100 and grazes them on the nutrient rich pasture around San Lorenzo and sells them one year later for $200. After paying his ranch hands, veterinary and taxes he’s able to purchase his next calf and still profit $70 per head. I explained to Nemecio that I wouldn’t be much good on a cattle drive and he offered to manage the cattle for half of the profit. He would manage everything from purchase to auction. It amazes me to think that a one time gift of 35 cows would provide all the earthly needs of an orphan all the years they live in the orphanage.

I’ve been resisting the requests of several friends who suggest starting a sponsor-a-child program. I’ve been hesitating because it’s a lot of administrative work tracking and responding to monthly gifts; however, I wonder if this might be a nice compromise because it is still for a child but only requires a one time gift. I’m immediately reminded of the generosity this summer of VBS programs from three churches; Mosaic Community Fellowship Church in SC, Fellowship Reformed Church in Holland, MI and St. John Lutheran Church in Allendale, MI. Between these three groups of children they raised nearly $3000 during their one week VBS program. Although much of this was raised for specific needs or projects it reminds me of the power of children in our adult world.

If you are looking for a way to connect your youth group, Sunday school class or even your family with an orphaned child; have a cow. James tells us in 2:18 “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” Wouldn’t it be a great testimony if our children could care for the fatherless and the least of these with their own young hearts and deeds?