Christmas Around the World
By NMC - December 29, 2016
Posted in Global Impact, Stories from NMC
We are honored to partner with many men and women and organizations who are doing the hard work of building the Kingdom in their communities. This Christmas season, as many at NMC celebrated with family and friends, our partners did the same. They cooked food and gave gifts. They built relationships and showed others the love of Christ. They met physical needs while caring for people’s spiritual needs. Although Christmas day has passed, get a glimpse into the celebrations of four of our eight strategic partners.
AGC Baby Centre – Nakuru, Kenya
The air is warm outside, reaching nearly 80 degrees. Inside the small room, there is a sense of anticipation, as if the kids know that today is special. Sweet smells drift their way from a kitchen across the yard and into the room where they play together.
Soon the kids are told to sit down, that something special is going to happen. As they wriggle in their seats, plates are brought in followed by steaming pots of sausage and pancakes that fill the room with the overwhelming scent of homemade comfort food.
This is Christmas at the Africa Gospel Church Baby Centre. It’s an incredibly joyous time of the year, one that missionaries Dan and Dana Jacobs and April Hershberger want the kids to understand as best as they can. So they celebrate the birth of Jesus with pancakes and sausage and “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cupcakes. Before they sing “Happy Birthday” to baby Jesus, Dan and Dana remind the kids who this Jesus is and why they celebrate His birth. Later, they make and serve lunch to the staff, showing their gratitude for their hard work and care for the children.
It’s a modest celebration, but it speaks volumes to the kids and staff. And as they celebrate Christmas together, they celebrate Jesus, His birth and His love.
Kuwa na Krismasi njema from Kenya.
Transformation Ministries – South Bend, Indiana
Forks and spoons clink against plates, and chatter fills every corner of the room. Someone finishes a story and laughter erupts from one of the tables. A couple of people turn, but most are engrossed in what’s happening at their tables. High school students sit with college students and adults as they share this meal together. Soon one of the adults announces that they will play a group game together in five minutes. People rush to finish their food so they don’t miss the fun. The night is full of games and laughter and silliness as the group plays together. The annual Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI) Christmas Party ends with gifts given to students and the group leaders.
Kory and Ali Lantz and their team love celebrating Christmas with their ISI kids, but the Christmas party is just one part of their celebration. A few years ago, they created a Christmas store in an effort to walk alongside their students’ families. The idea is simple. ISI families fill out a form that lists all the children in their household. Transformation staff then assigns each family with a dollar amount they can spend at the store based on the number of kids and their ages. Brand new, brand name items are donated to this store and parents have the opportunity to purchase these items for 80-90% off retail value.
The idea came out of a desire to provide an opportunity for parents to buy gifts instead of being handed gifts. Through the store, many parents have the opportunity to purchase something for their kids without having to cut back on other important things. Kory tells the story of a mom who often has to decide between buying Christmas gifts or paying the utility bill. Because of the Christmas store, she doesn’t have to choose.
It’s a small act, but it’s an act that shows their community, their kids and their families that they care. And as they show this care, they show the love of Jesus.
Merry Christmas from South Bend.
El Millón, Mexico
The bags sit in a line, ready to be handed out to men and women who walk through the church doors. These bags are full of life’s necessities—rice, beans, flour, oil, toilet paper, coffee. They are gifts, a giant financial burden lifted from the shoulders of those who receive them. A line of Americans greet the people as they walk into the church. With hugs and smiles and handshakes, the Americans love on the Mexican men and women.
These men and women are people from El Millón, Riveras and Jesús Caranza churches. Every year NMC sends a team to our partners in the Juarez area to help them pack and distribute these bags. It’s a big way these churches celebrate Christmas and walk alongside their community, and it’s a big way NMC walks alongside our partners.
This year, 23 NMCers made the trip to Mexico. They were given the opportunity to experience ministry and encourage our partners. They walked through communities in prayer and stepped into people’s homes. They served the churches’ leadership teams and loved on those who received the bags.
Each bag given symbolizes a relationship between the people who receive them and our partners. Some of these relationships have already been built and some still need to be built. We are honored to walk alongside our partners as they build these relationships.
Feliz Navidad from Mexico.
The Revolution Church – Gary, Indiana
Pastor Ryan Flemming shovels the freshly fallen snow off the sidewalk in the cold. It is -7 degrees exactly, and he wonders to himself if anyone will brave the cold and the snow to come to the Christmas celebration he and his team have been planning for about a year. He prays quietly, keeping time with the sound of the shovel against the sidewalk. Soon, he makes his way inside, and a small group of people join him. As worship music plays in the background, they pray together. They pray for the event, for the people who will walk through the church doors. They pray for people’s hearts and for their spirits. They pray for the Holy Spirit to be present.
Christmas on Lake Street begins, and time seems to fly. Before Ryan knows it, the room is full of more than 250 people eating a meal and sharing together. Kids make crafts and laugh together. People from The Revolution Church serve food and drinks to those who live in their community but don’t necessarily attend their church. Later, as Ryan shares the Gospel with them, he knows that the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts.
At the end of the evening, one of the women pulls Ryan and Johanna aside. She wants to know what it means to follow Jesus. As they talk with her, it becomes clear that she is ready to take a step closer to Jesus. That night, she prays and accepts Him as her Savior.
Christmas on Lake Street has become a tradition at The Revolution Church, and each year, God blesses the work and the effort of Ryan and his team. This year, the best Christmas gift is seeing a woman find her Savior.
Merry Christmas from Gary.