Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Monday, December 8, 2008

12/8: From Bethlehem to Baghdad to Bulawayo to Boston

When I listen to Fibion talk about what he is doing to help vulnerable kids and what drives him to do it, I cannot help but believe that you and I are so deeply fortunate to be in communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

This past Friday, I attended an InterVarsity advent event at Harvard. It was held at the Phillip Brooks house, named after an Episcopalian priest and professor at Harvard, who authored the lyrics to Oh Little Town of Bethlehem in 1867 after visiting Bethlehem 2 years prior. As I sat with my classmates and other Christians around the world, it was a magical evening. People shared about this Christmas and what they were excited about. For some, it was their first as a new Christian. For another, it was the first Christmas that they'll be able to celebrate openly after facing oppression in their home country. For still others, it will be a time of celebrating a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ.

About half way through the event, a friend of mine stood up to share. She gave us all a window into a Catholic Church in Baghdad that she has been getting to know. She showed us pictures that looked similar to ours: kids with huge smiles, singing Christmas songs (albeit in a different language), and faces of anticipation and joy regardless of age. The big differences were the 7 armed guards that watch over the church at all times, as it has been raided and the people attending there harassed, and the wire fencing. In fact, last year it was so bad that they had to meet at the City Hall because the church was too unsafe with military action all around. The leader of the church, who I won't name for safety reasons, wrote us a letter after hearing that people would be gathering in Boston to pray for Christians in Iraq. In it, he wrote, (to paraphrase)...there won't be tables abundant with food this year or shiny new toys. But our hearts will be abundant with the love of Jesus Christ.

As I sat there listening to his words of reflection during this advent season, I could not help crying. My eyes welled with great joy. The King of Kings...the Lord of Lords...Jesus... is coming!

We reflected on what it must've been like to be there that day on the hills around the stable in Bethlehem. The angels of heaven, crying out and praising the Messiah...announcing His arrival to the world. WOW!

As I sat in the house in Boston, with believers from around the world, and listened to stories from Baghdad and Bethlehem, my mind drifted to a conversation I had earlier that day with my friend from Bulawayo, Fibion, pictured above in the video. We talked of many things, but we, of course, talked about Christmas. Fibion regularly likes to remind me that, while we are praying for them amidst their suffering, we should not forget to remember that they are rejoicing with us this Christmas. Jesus is coming!

Amidst the busy nature of our world...amidst the chaos of shopping and fighting for a parking space at the grocery store...amidst the snow flakes bringing glee to kids around the USA, hoping school may be delayed giving them time to play... I encourage you to think of the great joy we have today and in the coming days.

Jesus is coming!

Tonight, as I think of that special night in Bethlehem, my heart drifts to Baghdad and Bulawayo, thinking of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, who are joining us in joyful anticipation. While I am celebrating this Christmas in Boston, know that I'll be thinking of you a lot this month, as well. I am thinking of you and praying that the Lord makes His face known to you and gives you peace.

May you know that the Lord loves you so much that He sent His son to earth, to die on a cross, and redeem the world, including you and me.

I am SOOOO excited for Christmas!


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