A birthday celebration that will help change lives

Bethany Detweiler didn't want a ordinary birthday, so she did something extraordinary.

Instead of asking for presents, she set a goal to raise $12,000 through My Gift Catalog, a tool that gives users the opportunity to raise funds to donate items through World Vision's Gift Catalog.

Bethany shares what inspired her to help others -- and how she plans on reaching her goal.

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I first found out about My Gift Catalog through World Vision just after New Years. I was setting goals for the year -- ways I want to change, things I want to do, and mostly, how to reach other people for Christ.

I have loved and supported World Vision for years. My husband and I sponsor two children. It’s something that brings me so much joy. In a way, they feel like our godchildren; they are much more than just kids we sponsor. I wondered if there was a way I could do more.

Giving to people who are in need has a very special place in my heart. I've been to quite a few countries such as India, Mexico, and Nigeria, where people's needs are great. I've wandered through slums and seen mothers who were forced to bathe their children in water black as oil, with trash floating on top and pigs soaking in it.

I've seen hope, too. I've watched as children lined up at the school built in that same slum by local Christians, to receive most likely their only meal for the entire day -- the excitement, the smiles, the gratitude, the singing.

My husband and I gave the gift of a well last Christmas, which was so incredible and filled me with so much joy. I realized I wanted to give my friends and family the chance to give like that, too.

I did some research on the World Vision website, and I found My Gift Catalog. Instantly, I felt inspired. I’m a dreamer, so as I was praying and pondering what goal to set, I felt this urge to put down $12,000. That would be $1,000 a month, as I’m hoping to raise it all before next New Years.

A mother in Kenya proudly holds a goat her family received through World Vision's Gift Catalog. (Photo: Kenneth Kibet/World Vision)

That’s a lot of money, I know. But I realized that I have a very big God. Everything in this world belongs to Him. It’s all His money, anyway. I trust that if He gave me the dream of a goal that big, He will bring people to fulfill it.

I used My Gift Catalog to create a birthday fundraiser, because to me, it would mean so much more than gifts. To know that my friends gave hope and a future to a child in need, in my name, would be the best gift ever.

Jesus said that whenever we do something for one of our brothers or sisters, we are doing it for Him. There's nothing more wonderful than that!

My birthday was April 10, and I’m so excited to see what God does. I’m praying and trusting -- and I’m asking my friends to share my catalog via social media to spread the word to all of their friends. The anticipation about what God is going to do makes my heart skip a beat.

This experience has changed my life. I know I will never be the same. I have looked beyond myself to my family around the world, and this has made a difference in their lives. Every donation is so personal.

I love to watch videos that show how these gifts can impact the people who receive them. Many times, it's not just a single family, but an entire community that benefits.

I’ve sat in front of my computer with tears streaming down my cheeks, watching videos of children splashing clean water on their faces, laughing and singing because they now have a well provided by World Vision.

I've also seen a video of a father wiping a tear from his eye, thanking givers like me, my friends, and family, because the gift of a goat has allowed his children to go to school.

It’s so much more than just a gift. It’s a lifeline. It’s a future.

Are you as inspired by Bethany's commitment to help others as we are?

Help her meet her goal of $12,000 by donating a goat, chickens, or other life-changing item through the World Vision Gift Catalog!

You can also set up your own My Gift Catalog page and invite others to help you raise funds for these special gifts that can help lift a family or entire community out of poverty.

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