These little piggies…

By Emily Enders Odom

In preparing for this year’s wildly successful Piglet Challenge, sponsored by the Presbyterian Giving Catalog in celebration of National Pig Day, March 1, I really did my homework.

While it’s true that pigs get little to no respect in the Bible, they are my new heroes when it comes both to caring for Creation and the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 invitation.

Yes, these oft-reviled animals — symbolizing the very depths of degradation in the parable of the prodigal or lost son — are good for the environment and beneficial for humankind.

My friend and colleague Bryce Wiebe, director of the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, perhaps explained it best and most succinctly.

“Pigs can help families throughout the world because they can consume food waste and tend to be durable in many climates and environments,” he said. “The Piglet Challenge is a fun way to encourage the Church to support the eradication of poverty [one of the three foci of Matthew 25] through development projects that make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The ambitious goal of this year’s Piglet Challenge — which was designed to call attention to the importance of piglets toward creating a sustainable source of income for families in need all across the world — was, at first, 50 piglets.

“We hit our goal of 50 midday on March 1 and announced via Facebook Live that we were increasing the goal to 75,” Lauren Rogers, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s project manager for Digital Fundraising, told me. “When the 24 hours of the challenge elapsed, we were at 107 piglets. The remaining piglets have come in the days since, bringing us to the rather remarkable number of 121 as of Monday, March 8.”

At $40 per piglet, that translates into an unprecedented total of $4,840 raised by faithful donors across the PC(USA).

The Giving Catalog reminds us that a “gift of one — or a few — piglets can serve as a valuable safety net — a source of income for a family in need. When sold at market, a pig can be the very thing that helps a family through times of struggle.”

And over 100 donors answered the call on March 1 to honor the world’s families by honoring their own. Here’s what some of them said:

Presbyterian Women did it: they chose cute piglets! Couldn’t pass them up. Adding to last summer’s matching chickens, goats and shares of a well. Delighted to be able to contribute.

This is in honor of my granddaughter, Odette, who loves piggies!

Pigs are special to me. Was raised on a farm showing pigs in 4-H.

Gift made in honor of the Presbyterian Youth Group (PYG) of First Presbyterian Church, Stillwater Okla.

Given by NBPC (New Braunfels Presbyterian Church) Presbyterian Women Spring 2021 Mission Project

Oink Oink! Thanks for the opportunity to help a pig and a human.

In his preface to Rebecca Barnes’ excellent book “50 Ways to Help Save the Earth” (Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), Gradye Parsons, a former Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), wrote:

On my grandmother’s farm I learned the direct links between field and table. I saw from a front-row seat how much work it takes to make a living from farming. There is no real time off. There is the constant worry of wanting some things to grow and other things to wilt. Our cousins had larger farms and larger worries, with big investments in farm equipment. Even with these anxieties, the family understood that the prize was the proper long-term stewardship of the land.

That and the oink, oink. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Now is the time to unite with thousands of others using the Presbyterian Giving Catalog to support the ministries closest to their hearts: feeding the hungry, comforting the brokenhearted and sharing our faith with young and old. Give today by clicking here.

The Rev. Emily Enders Odom is the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s mission interpretation strategist.

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