Lonely Christmas

23 12 2019

lonelychristmas

I still remember back in 2009 during Christmas how my family and I were stuck in Nairobi, Kenya, getting some medical stuff done. We were in the Baptist Guest House there, and although it is very nice accommodations, we had none of our Christmas decorations. We were living out of our bags. We were worried about our son who was having difficulty speaking. We were a long ways away from our home in Tanzania, and we were a long ways away from our family.

We certainly made the most of the time. We had wonderful friends there. Our two older boys made a construction paper Christmas tree that we hung on the wall and decorated. In all of the fun that we had, though, there was still a sense of loneliness.

This experience has made me more sensitive to the needs of our missionaries living overseas. We have families serving in some of the hardest places on earth, and even though they will make the most of the holiday season, they will still miss their family and friends. They will still miss the “stuff” that surrounds Christmas.

I remember missing the food that my mom makes. I remember missing getting to see all of my cousins and grandparents. I remember missing watching The Christmas Story over and over again and laughing at the same places.

This season for our missionaries is a time of conflicting emotions. They feel very called to be where they are, and at the same time many of them long for home. They have chosen to leave their home, friends, and family to follow where God has led them, but during this season, especially, they are keenly aware that leaving everything has consequences.

It can be very difficult for our missionaries to celebrate Christmas while living among a people group where very few, if any, even believe in Jesus.

As a result of all these things put together, many of our missionaries experience a real sense of loneliness during this season.


5 Things That You Can Do To Love Our Missionaries Well During The Christmas Season

  1. Pray for them – This may seem like the pat answer to everything, but it is only that to those who don’t believe in the power of prayer. Pray that our missionaries will experience a wonderful Christmas sensing God’s presence in everything they do.
  2. Email them – Send a missionary you know an email on Christmas morning. If they live on the other side of the globe, this will mean they will still get it on Christmas. Write some encouraging words. Let them know that you are praying for them. Give them a short update on what you are doing for Christmas and ask them what they did.
  3. Skype them – Most of our missionaries have the ability to Skype. Skype them in for a few minutes on Christmas morning just to say, “Merry Christmas!” You might even gather a group up and sing a Christmas carol for them!
  4. Remember their families still at home – Reach out to their families that are not with them to let them know that you are praying for their loved ones who are serving God in another country. Encourage them that you are praying for them as well.
  5. Send them something – Most missionaries can receive at least small things in the mail. Find out their mailing address and send them something. Anything is appreciated! You might send them a new movie or some hot cocoa packets or just some handwritten notes. Make sure you ask them about sending something. Sometimes customs charges our missionaries to pick up a package. This is fine as long as you cover that expense, too.

Don’t forget our missionaries this Christmas season. Have an incredible time with your family, but know that you can really make someone else’s Christmas special by doing one or two simple things.

 





Jesus, God’s First Missionary

13 12 2017

jesusgodsfirstmissionaryJesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
John 20:21 CSB

For the most part, followers of Jesus do a good job of trying to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Pastors preach great sermons on the purpose of Jesus’ coming. Choirs sing carols that focus on the incarnation. Every home has a miniature manger scene, and we all read the Luke 2 account of the birth of Jesus before opening presents.

Something is missing, though.

Jesus did not just come to redeem me or my family back to God. He was sent by the Father to redeem every people group.

If I am a follower of Jesus, certainly, I need to be grateful for the Father sending Him to me, but Christmas is now no longer about me! It now serves as an example that I am to be about the business of redeeming those who are lost.

The Father sent Jesus. Now, in the same way, Jesus is sending us. Jesus was and is our atoning sacrifice. His blood covers my sin so that I now stand before God in righteousness. But Jesus was also God’s first missionary in a long line that extends to you and me.

Once we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved (Romans 10:9). We are not then immediately translated to heaven, but physically still remain on earth. The reason we are left is that God in His incredible grace allows us to be His plan to reach the rest of the world.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Christmas is a love-fest on you and your immediate family. Yes, it should remind us of God’s grace and mercy and blessing, but more importantly it should spur us on to sharing the good news of Jesus with those who need to hear it.

5 Ways That You Can Be A Missionary This Christmas…

  1. Consider giving to your church’s world missions offering. Our church takes up the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering every December. 100% of the funds collected go straight to the more than 4,000 missionaries serving on the field with the International Mission Board.
  2. Make plates of Christmas goodies or cookies and take them to your neighbors. Place the treats on a dish that needs to be returned. Ask your neighbor how you can pray for them through the Christmas season and invite them to church. When they return the dish to you, follow up on the prayer request.
  3. Just determine in your mind that you are going to intentionally engage people in spiritual conversations over the course of the next few weeks.
  4. Take time to pray for missionaries that you know serving overseas and who will not be able to be with their families on Christmas Day. On December 25th, take a moment and send them an email, letting them know that you are thinking of them. Holidays are especially difficult for our missionaries.
  5. Find someone in your area who is fostering children in their home and offer to help with Christmas gifts, a meal, or finances.







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