The PET Family and the world are made up of many or no faiths

PET MO-Columbia update 1-1-15
Barbara and I are back from a wonderful Christmas in Texas with family.
As I pondered a first-of-the-year column I felt this story especially
relevant to PET as we launch into 2015. PETs go all over the world and
into the hands of leg-handicapped persons of many diverse faiths. More
go to Muslims, I think, than to any other faith group. Our donors and
volunteers are from a wide variety of faiths.
I have personally insisted that PETs never be used in such a way as to
say, “If you will become a Christian, we will give you a PET.” That is
a NO, NO, NO, NO! Our PETs are a witness of gracious love from the
faiths represented in the PETs given. I want each of our donors and
volunteers of the Baha’i, Jewish, Muslim, Christian faiths, and others,
and our wonderful atheist volunteers and donors, to feel that that
which they claim as the center of their being is represented in that
PET they help make possible.

Read and share this story. That might be our PET family gathered around
the workbench.

It is a relevant and timely story, by Reza Aslan, NY Times. He and his
wife hosted their first Christmas family dinner, and “for a good ten
minutes our two families stood around the dinner table arguing about
how to thank God for the meal we were about to eat. “His mother, a
born-again Christian, wanted to address the prayer to Jesus, suggesting
that He was what Christmas was about.”
His little sister, a devout Muslim, loves and admires Jesus as a
prophet and messenger of God, but had no intention of praying to him.
His middle sister, a militant atheist, was supremely annoyed that they
would stand around a table of food growing cold and argue about such a
matter. “Why don’t we just pray to Santa Claus?”, she asked.
The evangelicals from Pittsburgh were mostly confused about why rice
and shish kebabs were being served alongside Christmas turkey and
mashed potatoes. Finally Mr. Aslan’s wife came up with the suggestion,
“Why don’t we just let Reza decide? He suggested they go around the
table and each share what they are grateful for, what they are anxious
about, and what are their hopes for the coming year. So they did, and
in due time sat down to a traditional and cooling Christmas dinner of
turkey and kebabs.
This is a rather major issue for those of us who are often (usually
without notice) asked to bless a meal or an occasion. As our societies and
families have become more spiritually diverse the “prayer” must mix
personal feelings of loyalty to a certain faith, but equally want to do
and say that which is “politically” proper and of respect to all present.
I personally like the solution that Reza gave, but do it after all sit
down to warm food, and use that as the topic of directed table
“On the choice of friends,
our good or evil name depends.” John Gay
Mel West


Donors logically ask, either within their own minds, or vocally, “What
difference does my giving make?” A 40′ container of mission items from
here is on its way to Rainbow Network in Nicaragua. Here are just some of
the differences it will make:
*** 135 wheelchairs will enable 135 leg-handicapped persons to have the
gift of mobility, and help relieve their caregivers.
*** Crutches, walkers, canes and other devices will replace makeshift
*** 200 sturdy folding chairs will probably go, two to a home, to homes
where they have absolutely no chairs, using only wood slabs.
*** Clothing and shoes will go to thousands of individuals who will
treasure it, as they are a proud people and make every effort to appear in
public decently and cleanly dressed. Our clothing shipments over the last
20 year have made a tremendous difference. The clothing will be hand
washed, sometimes in water carried a distance, and hung to dry on bushes
or wires.
*** The school desks so lovingly made by our volunteers will enable
students to sit and work there instead of on the ground or their laps.
*** The carpenter tools will be used in building the new homes for the new
villages. They do all the work, and pay for the materials over a 20 year
*** The plywood and lumber will be used to make ramps so persons in PETs
or wheelchairs have access to needed facilities.
*** Sports equipment will be treasured by children for whom a baseball is
sometimes a clump of plastic bags wrapped and tied together.
*** Appropriate medical equipment will enable the doctors to provide more
services as they go from village to village.
*** 32 new heavy duty truck tires will enable the Rainbow trucks to
maneuver the terrible roads to deliver the items and serve the
*** ALL THAT, AND MUCH MORE. A lot of good goes out the door at 1908
Your donations made December a good month at PET and Container. Kathy will
report on that: I have a pile of deposit copies that I have yet to work
thru and determined how items are to be booked, but we received
approximately $100,000 in December for both missions. That is about 25%
of our budget received in one month. That means that each year we have a
big carryover to operate until the next December. Kathy
“A wise man hears one word and understands two.” – Yiddish Proverb
Mel West

2 Replies to “The PET Family and the world are made up of many or no faiths”

  1. Item One:
    I was surprised, and happy about, how diverse are those who receive the PET carts. I knew some are being sent to countries where the Muslim population is in the majority (which called for the affiliates to adjust the language/some words on the shipping boxes, etc. A discussion at one of our Board meetings revealed that one or more felt that our witness was the most responsible and important thing…being true to our Christ and His commands. Which implied, in some cases “…whether the leg handicapped child /children received a ‘gift of mobility’ or not. The point got vigorously discussed among “friends” with little change in individual convictions. We do, however, follow the lead of previous experience as explained by our fearless Director of Operations, Von.
    Item Two: How does Columbia get requests for the other items that they ship? sewing machines, bedding, medical equipment, crutches, wheel chairs, and the like are in Mel’s Updates regularly. When we were approved as a new Affiliate to make the small PET carts as our main ministry, there was no suggestion that we develop a division on such addition items. Shouldn’t more of us be doing this?

  2. From our experience at PET-Kansas, it’s a good idea to check with Customs for the country the PETs are going to before you send the PETs. For example, when we go to Ethiopia, we cannot put extra items in with the PETs because PETs are the only thing listed on the Customs form. If we put extra things in, they charge extra (over and above the Customs’ fee) because they classify it as “merchandise,” and they think we’re going to sell it.
    On the other hand, if Customs in the country you are going to has no problem with sending extra items in the PET boxes, it’s a great idea to get the extra items there in one shipment.
    As far as each PET shop is concerned, I would imagine it’s up to you as to what you ship with your PETs, either inside the packages or separately. It would be wise to check with Customs at the Embassy of the receiving country before you leave, just to make sure about it.

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