Across the world, cultures look different. Yet all people have the same basic needs— like food, shelter and water, to name a few.
Today in Asia, millions of people lack these basic needs of life and are entrenched in generations of poverty. When families live in extreme poverty—defined as earning less than $1.90 (USD)1 a day —they are caught in a cycle of living hand to mouth. This cycle leaves few opportunities for them to improve their financial situation or offer their children any other future. Work takes priority over an improved education, and there is no extra to buy new equipment or take steps toward a different way of life.
It is people like these GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog helps. They may be farmers, fishermen, daily laborers, factory workers, widows or many others. They are precious people, made in God’s image, who are gifted and full of potential but who lack opportunity.
These Christmas Gift Catalog gifts are not just a hand out to the poor—they are a means of empowerment. Some gifts meet an immediate need and bestow dignity to those living in destitution. Other gifts generate income for years to come, helping to lift a family out of poverty and demonstrating God’s deep love. A simple gift can lead to a brighter future, just like it did for Tavleen and her family.
Tavleen had lived a difficult life in a small, unfinished house with her husband, Bhavin, and two young children. Bhavin was the sole breadwinner for the family, and although money was scarce, they managed to provide scanty meals for their children.
Then one day, Bhavin had a heart attack and collapsed. He was gone. The family’s financial situation was already precarious, and the death of Tavleen’s husband brought further devastation.
Tavleen, at 55 years old, quickly stepped into the role of provider, but the cleaning jobs she found couldn’t fully support her family. Her seventh-grade son realized their desperate situation and decided to drop out of school to work as a daily laborer. Soon his younger sister followed his example and began taking care of the home instead of going to school.
For two years, Tavleen’s family struggled alone. They sought their many gods and goddesses, but no help came—until the God they did not know brought a stranger to Tavleen’s doorstep.
Pastor Chintan, a GFA-supported pastor in Tavleen’s village, happened to visit her home while he was meeting families in the community. Although many people in Asia believe widows carry a curse that caused their husbands’ deaths, Pastor Chintan understood how much God loves widows. Pastor Chintan couldn’t solve Tavleen’s financial problems, but he gave her what he did have to give: the knowledge of Someone who could carry her burdens and give her hope.
Later, on International Widows Day, Pastor Chintan honored the hurting widows in his community by organizing a gift distribution. By distributing gifts like those in GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog, he could bless widows with income-generating gifts—something he couldn’t have done on his own.
The plight of Tavleen’s family was etched in Pastor Chintan’s mind, so he arranged for Tavleen to receive a water buffalo, knowing it would provide nutritious milk for her and her children to sell and drink.
Tears ran down Tavleen’s face when she joyfully received her water buffalo. The generosity of the Church touched her heart and filled her with excitement for the future—this gift would completely transform her family!
Tavleen built a shed for her water buffalo, and her daughter diligently watched over it in the pasture while Tavleen and her son worked during the day. They patiently waited for their pregnant buffalo to have a calf and start producing milk. Then, after a few months, the water buffalo surprised Tavleen by giving birth to two calves instead of one!
Milk vendors began buying buffalo milk from Tavleen, giving her a steady income of $22–$30 (USD) every month. With her new earnings, Tavleen repaired her damaged house and even began saving up for the future and for her daughter’s marriage.
Tavleen and her son still needed to work, but their buffalo dramatically reduced their financial crisis. And even if they couldn’t work one day, their milk money enabled them to still buy food. Drinking the nutrient-rich buffalo milk meant Tavleen spent less money on meals, and it helped her children, who didn’t get to drink milk before, grow stronger.
Beyond boosting the family income, the water buffalo brought simple joys to Tavleen’s family. They lived in a culture where chai, a type of Indian tea, was a staple drink, but because they could never before afford to buy milk, Tavleen’s family had hardly ever tasted tea with milk in it. The simple act of putting their buffalo’s milk into their tea brought them so much joy!
The kindness Pastor Chintan showed to Tavleen through his concern for her and the gift of the water buffalo warmed Tavleen’s heart. She began attending worship services with his congregation, where she heard more about the One who truly cares about widows and orphans. The truth of Christ’s great love and mercy resonated within Tavleen and her children, and each one decided to receive the Greatest Gift ever given.
Today, Tavleen and her son still work to provide for their family, but their buffalo—and soon its two calves—will continue to provide considerable financial stability for them. Even better, Tavleen and her children now carry a peace and hope they didn’t know before meeting Jesus. Their hearts overflow with gratitude toward those who provided for their needs and toward the Lord, who saw them in their time of struggle.