By: Erwin van Laar, Director of Development
So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the
needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will
joyfully express their thanks to God.
2 Corinthians 9:12
There is no nativity story in John’s gospel, but he starts off his gospel with a reflection entirely
appropriate to Christmas:
“The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
(John 1:4-5 NLT).
We know that Christmas is not about the buying of things or the giving and receiving of presents, but neither is it simply about the birth of a child. Christmas is about the Incarnation of the Word in the flesh. It is about the very self-communication of God taking on our life, our joys and our sorrows, our triumphs and our sufferings, even our death. It is about the radical declaration of God’s solidarity with us and with creation. A declaration of solidarity so powerful that it is a light shining in the darkness. For what the solidarity of God means is that there is no darkness into which we can go that God’s light does not come with us. There is no sorrow, no suffering, no injustice, no pain in which we are alone, in which we are removed from God. It is a light that shines in the darkness.
And lights shining in the darkness are powerful signs of hope. When we describe what our national partners do in the world, we talk about the gospel and the open doors that God provides. Christmas reminds us that we are called to bring light into the dark places of the world and that is also what our partners do. Which brings me to something we sent to you a few weeks ago, our catalogue – Hope in Action. The Hope in Action gift catalogue equips our partners around the world to bring light into dark places, whether through a gift of a goat, education for a child, a well for a village or a new Bible for a family.
Our national workers do not just go into the dark places of our world for the excitement or the adventure. For many of them, this work of love costs them so much. Our theme verse for this year is 1 John 3:18 and I have shared it with you often. However, if I put a little more of this passage in context – 1 John 3:16-17 reads like this:
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? (and then verse 18) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
The ministry of our national workers and missionaries that we partner with have shown us another side of Christmas – light, hope and love. We look forward to your gift at this time of year. We want you to know that supporting our national workers and missionaries is the most important gift we can give today. Please know that your gift will be a special encouragement to so many.
May your Christmas be filled with the same and as you read the Christmas story with your family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I pray the Lord will bless you with this – “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people – the Saviour.”