Baby Bottle Campaign

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Your loose change can save a life and give hope to a woman facing a crisis pregnancy.

The teachings of Jesus often seem unrealistic when you are raising a family. For example, what do you with the command, “sell your possessions, give the money to the poor and come follow me”? How does that work when you have a house, children to feed, schedules to keep, soccer games to get to, parent-teacher conferences, credit card bills, fevers, trips to the emergency room (if you’re my family) and three events scheduled at a time with two cars and one parent to drive said cars. You get the idea. I don’t even have time to think about the poor, let alone set up a fire sale for everything I own and then find the courage to give the proceeds away.

And yet the command still stands, “sell your possession, give the money to the poor and come follow me.” Now imagine this scenario. Your kid happens to be reading the Bible and he asks you, “dad, what did Jesus mean by sell your possessions?” How do you answer? “That command is optional”?  “Jesus didn’t really mean it”? You see the problem. You’ve left yourself wide open for this comeback question, “Is obeying your parents optional too?” At that point they’d have you.

So what do you do, when the lifestyle that Jesus calls you and your family to love is radically different to the one you live today? Let me tell what I’ve learned not to do. (I’m better as a role model in reverse, just ask my kids.) Don’t throw up your hands, say it is impossible and do nothing . Because we can’t do it all right now, does not mean that we can’t do something. Sometimes following Jesus is about taking small, consistent steps in His direction.  In other words, start by doing something small and see where life takes you.

In the last posts we’ve talked about giving away our trash. Today, I’d like to talk about the possibility of donating our loose change. Easy. Painless. A small but significant step towards the radical life that Jesus laid out for us in the Gospels.

My friend Daryl Breda works for an organization called A Woman’s Concern.  Daryl’s group works on a shoestring budget to provide alternatives to abortion for women and their families who are facing a crisis pregnancy. You’ve probably seen images of abortion protests on television with people screaming and lobbing word grenades such as “baby-killer” and “fascist anti-choice woman hater” at each other. What is obscured by our sensationally driven media is the fact that there is a young woman, usually scared and alone, who believes that her only chance for a future is to abort her unborn baby. What if there was someone there to offer her not condemnation but a real choice? You don’t have to kill your baby. You have friends. You have a community. We will do whatever it takes to provide you and your baby with a future.

That is the question that drives the volunteers at A Woman’s Concern and they have saved countless babies and their mothers from the horror of abortion. They do this is through volunteers and a very small budget. One of the ways they raise the money they need is through your loose change.

Each year we set out baby bottles for families to take home. We ask that you fill then with quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies and bring them back. Real simple, but $10 – $20 can be the difference between life and the destructive force of abortion. Set it up in your home and encourage your children to get involved. They will ask you what it is for and you can tell them about what it is like to be young, pregnant, scared and all alone. Depending on how old they are, you may have to decide how much you are going to tell them them about teen pregancy and abortion, but if they are in elementary school and higher they may have already heard about it.

You can share how Jesus felt about people who were despised because their sin was so obvious. (Jesus and the Samartian woman at the well in John chapter 4 is a great example.) Instead of condemning the sinful woman, Jesus gave her acceptance, hope and the power to live a new life. Giving our loose change to support a scared young woman facing a pregnancy is a way that we as a family can imitate Jesus. It’s not the whole vision of Jesus, but it is a great step forward.

For more information

A Woman’s Concern’s Fall River clinic is in the process of renovating a new facility in the heart of downtown Fall River. Their new location will be more accessible to the clientele they serve who are dependent on public transportation. They are currently seeking plumbing and electrical expertise and volunteers to help with the construction of the new clinic. They have raised close to $8,000 of the $30,000 that they need to complete the build out. If you would like to volunteer or find out more, we encourage you to get in contact with A Woman’s Concern.  Their contact info is provided below.

A Woman’s Concern

484 Highland Avenue
Fall River, MA 02720

Phone: (866) 435-7292



Treasures in your Trash (Your ideas)

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While we throw our treasures away, many of the world's poor survive by scavenging through our trash as these souls do at the dump outside of Tegucigalpa.

Thanks for the great response to our series on Christians and recycling.  Here are some of the ideas and resources that you shared. Take a look and let us know what you think.

A Refrigerator Friendly Recycling Guide (suggested by Karen Ripley)

Karen suggested that we condense our “Treasures in the Trash” article to a single page “recycling guide” that can be posted on the refrigerator. We’ve posted it to our website so you can print it out:  Pacific Union Recycling Guide (pdf).

Dive! The Film (submitted by Sarah Terrell)

Here’s a film Steve and I watched recently — It’s about the enormous amount of food waste in the US. Definitely worth a conversation. I thought we were pretty good about not wasting food, but this made me realize that I still throw out way more than I should.

Dive! The Film – Living Off America’s Waste

The No Trash Family (submitted by Larry Palmer or Laurence with a “u” as his friends affectionately know him)

Larry came across an article in People Magazine (page 78 in the January 16, 2012 issue) about the Johnson family who lives a “zero-waste” lifestyle. The average American family throws away an average of 1051 lbs of trash annually. This family has reduced it to almost zero by reducing, reusing and recycling virtually everything they bring home.  You can find out more on their family blog, and be sure to read through their “Tips” page.

Re-use / Re-purpose (submitted by Karen Ripley)

Here is another way to look at things – repurpose: What else can I use this for?
There are many craft books available at the library with ideas of things to make out of stuff some people would throw away. There are even idea of how to make things out of chip bags.

I started crocheting last year with plarn(plastic yarn) made from store bags. You can turn your grocery bags into stronger reusable bags, hats or whatever.

We need to rekindle the imagination in a way to inspire resoucefulness, ingenuity and respect for God, ourselves and others.

Conserving water, fuel and power (submitted by Larry Palmer)

It’s not trash, but they are still resources entrusted to our care. Be conscious of how much water, gasoline, fuel for cooking and home heating and electric power you use. Energy / water conservation is related, but that’s a topic for another day.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

If you have any ideas that you would like to share, post them as a comment and I’ll be sure to include them in this blog post.

Treasures in your Trash (God Loves Recycling – Part II)


Tolupan Tribal Center in Pacayal, Honduras, a missions project funded in part by our church's recycling program.

We have been entrusted by God with a world to care for that gives Him great delight. Sitting in our trash are the resources to provide a poor village with safe drinking water, give a family access to adequate health care and provide a child with an education and a future. Both are compelling reasons for Christian families to take the idea of recycling seriously. We discussed this in our previous post, God Loves Recycling.  But I’d imagine that for most of you, you don’t need to be convinced of the importance of not carelessly dumping our stuff in the trash. The real question is this: how can a busy family get involved when there are already so many demands on their time?

My friend Larry Palmer, beloved elder at Pacific Union, is passionate about getting people involved in recycling. We talked about it over coffee the other day at the local Panera Bread before he dashed off to tackle the projects that were waiting for him. I was honored to get a half an hour of his undivided attention, and during that time I posed the question: “So where would a family start if they wanted to get involved in protecting the environment and raising money for the poor with their trash?”  What emerged in the next twenty minutes was a deluge of information.  I’m going to do my best to organize it into a simple form while trying to do justice to Larry’s wisdom and experience.

Think of your trash as fitting into one of four categories:

  • Trash to sell.
  • Trash that can be recycled.
  • Trash that must be disposed of properly.
  • Trash that can be safely put in the landfill.

Trash to Sell

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in England, once preached: “[Money] in the hands of [God’s] children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty [and clothes] for the naked …”  Wesley was talking about the money we would ordinarily spend on ourselves, but we’ve discovered as a church that much of that money is sitting in our trash! We had resources to feed, clothe and educate the poor that we were about to throw away. This past year our church completed a tribal center in Pacayal, Honduras in partnership with a tribe called the Tolupan. Roughly $12,000 or 15% of the money raised came from our recycling program.

So what is sitting in our trash that has resale value? Larry’s basic rule of thumb is anything metal or anything electric has value on the recycling market.  Here are some examples:

  • Scrap metal. All metal has resale value in recycling. Metals that are non-magnetic (aluminum, copper, brass) tend to have a greater value than magnetic metals (steel).
  • Old unused or broken jewelry. Old jewelry can either be sold as antiques on websites like eBay or recycled for the value of the precious metals.
  • Clocks and watches. Older watches that are non-quartz may have resale value as antiques.
  • Light bulbs. The tungsten filaments on an incandescent light bulb have value.  The glass from the bulb can be recycled. The ballasts from fluorescent fixtures (or the whole fixture if the fixture is too difficult to take apart).
  • Old televisions and computer monitors (remember when TVs weren’t flat?)  These take some work taking apart but the resale value of the parts (circuit board, wiring, copper cone, power cord, etc.) are certainly worth the effort. Computer monitors have gold-plated contacts that have some value. Flat screens can also we recycled but at a lower value.
  • Computers and laptops. These often have gold plating to protect contacts.
  • Appliances, anything with a motor. Of particular value is the copper windings in the motor.
  • Wire.  That includes coax cable, computer cables, power cords, telephone wire and the telephones themselves.
  • Air conditioners.
  • Old Irons.  Irons often have an aluminum base.
  • Used Batteries. All batteries, alkaline, nickel cadmium, car batteries have a resale value. Larry Palmer has a company that pays him for batteries by the pound.
  • Cell Phone chargers and power supplies.  The electronic devices have a metal coil that has value.
  • Cell Phones.  Cell phone can be refurbished and given to US soldiers to call home through a program called “Cell Phones for Soldiers.”
  • Other items include: toasters, vacuum cleaners, lamps, nails,screws, lawn mowers, weed whackers, rakes, etc.

If you are in the Westport, Massachusetts area and you would like to donate any of the items please contact Larry Palmer at If you are not in Southeastern Massachusetts, we encourage you to find local recycling centers that will purchase your recyclables we’ve mentioned and then as a family find a worthy cause to donate the money to.

Trash that can be recycled

In addition to using all our God-given resources to advance God’s kingdom, we also have a responsibility to care for the world that God created and so dearly loves. Some recyclables greatest value is not in their resale value, but in the fact that they can be reused and not tossed to take up space in our landfills. These items include: glass, paper, cardboard and plastic. You’ll have to check for the guidelines in your own community, but as a basic guide our check our local company’s recycling guidelines.

Trash that must be disposed of properly

There are certain items that are too hazardous to put into our landfills as they tend to leach into the soil and may pollute the groundwater. These include: waste oil, solvents, anti-freeze, outdated drugs and oil based paints. Check with your local town for guidelines for the safe disposal of these products.

Trash to be safely thrown in the landfill

For items that can not be resold, recycled, or composted and are non-leachable can safely be thrown away.  Try starting a competition with your family to see how little you can throw away this year.

Add to the recycling conversation

God has entrusted our society with unprecedented wealth and resources.  May God guide your family as you seek to honor Him by using your stuff to love the poor and care for His Creation. Do you have recycling ideas? Add to the conversation by posting a comment. We’d love to hear from you.