Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
As a Christian, I firmly believe that it is my families responsibility to tithe at least 10% of our income each month. When we make our budget, we always add up all our costs/what we can spend after that amount has been taken out. I've recommended it before, but I urge you to read The Hole In Our Gospel. I'm not a theologian, but I don't think there's a right or wrong way to give. We personally do not give most of our money to the actual church we're attending (too long to get into why right now). I promise, promise, you I'm not saying this for a pat on the back, and we certainly don't deserve one. I just want to share some of our favorite organizations, because it would be really great if you ended up sharing with them too! I would also love to hear what places you donate to!
The past year or two we have been giving most of our money to The Voice of the Martyrs. Please go over to http://www.persecution.com/ and check them out. They will send out a free monthly magazine if you sign up with them. Honestly, it's heartbreaking and horrifying, but the suffering of those around the world will absolutely put your problems in perspective. These people are the true heroes of Christian faith.
We also sponsor two children-a girl from Brazil, and a little boy in Uganda. I think this is a really awesome thing to do as a family. It's a really tangible way for kids to understand that there is more to life than just them, and for them to gain empathy for those around them without it being overwhelming (like V.O.M. might be). When Sam and John Stephen get a little older, I hope that they will become penpals and write to each other. Eventually, I'd like to sponsor two more children around Annaleigh and Owen's age so they have the same opportunity.
World Vision has a lot of really awesome programs. Joel got a re-enlistment bonus recently, and the kids and I are going on a shopping spree. :) It's actually really fun and exciting deciding what we want to do. You can buy livestock (goats, chickens, pigs, ducks, rabbits, cows. even alpacas!) for families, medicine, food, fund a micro-loan, there are a ton of options...I love this!
While I was looking around, I found a section where you can purchase items from them. I am super excited about this, because now I know where my family is getting their Christmas presents this year (maybe not the kids themselves, but parents/grandparents...). The products are handmade by families around the world, or produced on fair trade farms, and all the extra proceeds go to World Vision's programs.