Christmas on the Mission Field

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by John of Japan, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    In 2006 I did a thread about a very difficult Christmas we had many years ago, and then also talked about Christmas that year. I thought I'd do a thread about our Christmas this year and invite others to respond or add comments about Christmas on the mission field.

    This year was a little difficult, since my wife went back to the homeland for a two week trip to see our son and her family. Her lost friend Junko went with her, and it was a wonderful opportunity for Junko to see true Christianity in action. We've given Junko the Gospel numerous times, but she's not been interested in the Lord. They attended church several times, including a cantata where our son had the lead role. At one point Junko asked why Patty read her Bible every day. Junko also learned to pray with Patty before meals and at bed time.

    Unfortunately, Patty came back with a cold that turned into flu, and with injured ribs from carrying those heavy suitcases. So she was not able to even go to our Christmas service on the 21st, much less help. It was all up to me! Wow, she does so much for me and the Lord that everything is so much harder without her.

    Anyway, our first Christmas activity was getting out a Christmas tract I had written, and we've gotten out a couple of thousand of those I suppose. Unfortunately it was not printed very well, but since the homeland printing ministry did it for free we can't complain.

    As I said, we had our Christmas celebration at the church on Sunday, and had a good attendance. I worked hard on a special, colorful Christmas bulletin with my Japanese software and a little help from PrintMaster too. The service went well. We sang some Christmas songs and a couple of choruses. We worked on this month's memory verse, 1 John 3:5, which gives the main reason Christ came: "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin." Then I preached on the people who met the baby Jesus.

    The closing hymn was "Silent Night," which we sang by candlelight and guitar (after all, it was written for guitar). This has become a tradition with us, and it's so precious to hear these Japanese believers sing about Christ.
     
    #1 John of Japan, Dec 22, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2008
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Continued:

    After the service we had our potluck meal. Patty's contribution was her famous Christmas cookies. She left off the icing on some so even Mr. U. (who doesn't like sweets) ate some. Mrs. T. brought a cheese & rice casserole, Mr. U. brought chicken, Mrs. S made cute little sandwiches, Shiho W. brought omuraisu, which is an omelet wrapped around rice (very good!), etc.

    The dessert was a chocolate Christmas cake, ordered specially. This is a custom in Japan, and why not, since it is our Lord's birthday? The children were delighted, of course!

    After the meal I had a game planned for the children. I put up a bare paper Christmas tree, no decorations. I had printed and cut out clipart decorations, then put tape on the back. We spun the kid around then let them try to put the decoration on the tree. (Kind of a Christmas version of Pin the Tail, you know.) They had a blast! Little Mai (7) kept saying how fun it was. Of course everyone got a kick when the pastor tried his hand at it.

    Our greatest blessing was that Shiho, now 20 years old, is back. She and her mother (divorced many years ago) hadn't been in five years! She and her older sister (a bar girl nowadays) had been our first Japanese to come to this church when we started it years ago. We had been there for the mother when Mai was born out of wedlock--took her to the hospital and broke the news to her totally clueless high school son that his Mom was about to be a Mom again. Mrs. W. couldn't come today due to a migraine, but we praise the Lord for how He is working in their lives.

    After the meal, we gathered up the leftovers, and everyone agreed they should go to Mr. U#2. He has Hepatitis C and suffers greatly from the effects of the chemo, so he couldn't make it today. He was so grateful for the food. He's a former company president whose life fell apart--the disease, closing his business, his wife divorcing him. So he found the Lord when he looked for something to lean on as his life disintegrated.

    That's Christmas this year on the mission field. How'd it go for you?
     
  3. Spinach

    Spinach
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    I cannot attempt to even explain it, but this year I found myself missing the traditions of my childhood home. We've become somewhat uprooted because of necessary repairs to our house. We had to move out for a short time and stay in the home of a fellow missionary, on furlough. The stresses of the repairs made it difficult to be cheerful. I wasn't sure what kind of holiday we would have, being in between houses like this. Winter blahs hit early, so I wasn't optomistic.

    I began to think about Christmas fairly early, which I usually have to do so my Mom can take the kids' wish lists and send them in October so they get here by Christmas.

    At that point, I REALLY began to miss my family. I missed the traditional sights and smells of Christmas. It was not an option to go back, so I attempted to bring it to us. I found things unique to America and had them sent over. It was nice to wrap up these rare little things.

    Then one day, while planning our Christmas menu and decorations, I really wanted a candle----and not just any candle---I wanted a Yankee candle with pine, cinnamon, and vanilla scents. It was silly, really. Still, I couldn't get the idea out of my head. I looked online for one but couldn't justify the cost. I was bummed. Then I was upset at myself for feeling bummed. It was a silly, vain item, afterall.

    Then one day at the grocery store, I came across a special site----candles! They were not Yankee, but they were the exact scents I was hoping for----and SOOOO much cheaper. I grabbed up 2 and went home with my prize. I thanked the Lord for sending me something silly just to brighten my day.

    The house has now been decorated and we're all ready for the celebration. We got our Charlie Brown tree yesterday, which we had not planned on doing, and I made a chimney out of wood and paper so we could hang our stockings. The lights are on. The Poinsietta is out. The candles are lit. My daughter is singing "O Come All Ye Faithful". It's more that I could have ever asked for or dreamed. It has been a comfort.

    Reading this, y'all must think I'm silly and materialistic----I guess sometimes I can be a bit of both. I just never imagined the emptiness that one could feel, being so far away from everything familiar.

    As far as the ministry goes, culturally, Christmas is not a big holiday. The Pastors will preach the birth of Christ and after service, someone will pass around a box of chocolates. Easter is a MUCH bigger holiday----What a time of feasts!!

    We are preparing to distribute the yearly flour and oil among the churches---to help them make it through the winter. On top of that, I have been able to be a part of a kids coat drive. I am pleased with the response and am looking forward to a van full of coats come January.

    It's been a good year!
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks much for sharing, Spinach. We know all of those feelings. We've lived in other missionaries' homes, and missed the loved ones and sounds and scents and traditions of the family in the homeland.

    It can be very hard being uprooted like that, and no one who has not experienced it can understand it well. But Jesus can! He left Glory to come and be born in a manger. That is an incredibe cross-cultural gap! So He understands us when we miss our loved ones and traditions of the homeland. It's sweet that He's helped you in some little ways get ready for Christmas.

    This Christmas my mother in America is very old and may go to Heaven soon. I got to see her on a quick trip back last year, so that's okay with me. God knows exactly what He is doing. Mom and Dad were going to be missionaries to Tibet before the Communists took over, so they told me, "You are fulfilling our debt to the Far East." God has it all figured out, amen?
     
  5. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    I am officially on a BB holiday, but sa your thread John and decided to pop in.

    Last night was our annual carol service. It is always a blessing. We had loads of visitors, but one of particular note.

    A lady named Bridie comes to most of our services and Bible study. She has never made a clear profession of faith, but is eager to hear God's word. She has a friend named Caroline who we have prayed for in the past. Caroline as some emotional issues dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. So far she has rejected any attempts to talk to her.

    She came to our carol service where the gospel was clearly presented. She was touched by the message and by the love God's people showed her.

    We would appreciate your prayers for both Caroline and Bridie. One of the great blessings of Christmas on this mission field is that the 'quasi-christian' tradition opens some initial doors for us. Now we need the Holy Spirit to continue to open the doors of these ladies hearts.

    Also, for the first time in quite a while our entire family will be here. Our daughter came in from the states last night and our son and his family, missionaries in Northern Ireland, drove dowm last night.
     
  6. 4His_glory

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    Well as they say "when in Rome..." so I guess I can share a little as well.

    The only thing about Christmas on the field that I miss the most is time with family. Other than that I enjoy Christmas here. I certainly do not miss the snow and ice and throughly enjoy our summer weather.

    Saturday we had our church Christmas asado (like a BBQ only better!) and there were several visitors their which was a blessing. It was an enjoyable time of fellowship and eating and paying fútbol with the kids, all in all a blessed time.

    Sunday we should a Christmas film and I gave a brief Gospel challenge afterwards regarding the second coming of Christ. I wish we would have had more visitors as we "advertised" heavily even putting up bulletins in local store windows but we were blessed by those who did come.

    May God bless all of you far and wide wherever you may be this holiday season. ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo!
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for your good post, Roger. Praise the Lord for Caroline and Birdie coming to your services. May the Lord save them. I'm praying.

    Have a great Christmas with your family!

    John
    [​IMG]
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for your good post, 4His_glory.

    Hey, I like that idea of a Christmas asado! I'm afraid it wouldn't work over here though. We will have a very white and very cold Christmas Day.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. 4His_glory

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    Well hop on a plane and bring everybody over to warm sunny Argentina next year!

    Feliz Navidad hermano
    Dios te bendiga

    (Merry Christmas brother
    God bless you)
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Have a great Christmas with your family, brother.

    Merii Kurisumasu
     

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