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JL's Journal

December 17, 2014

CHRISTMAS IN KIBERA

“He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty-handed.”

(Luke 1:53)

The Kibera Slums, Nairobi, Kenya

 

Dear Ministry Partners,

   Patt and I send you our warmest Christmas love and greetings in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Contrary to the sacred maxim of political correctness, Christmas is a Christ-Mass – or a celebration of His birthday. Christmas is not about Santa – it’s about the Savior! Anything less is a spiritual and cultural counterfeit.  Remove Christ from Christmas and all you have left is an empty “happy holiday” rather than a joyous “Holy Day.”

   As you know, I returned Sunday evening from two weeks in Kenya – my last mission trip of 2014. This annual trip to Nairobi and South Horr is one of the ways I spiritually prepare for Christmas. It is a time to escape the frenzied and frenetic materialism that has hijacked Christmas – even for the majority of Christians.  For me it is also a “reality check” for the level of my Christian compassion. And if there is any place on earth that you can get “compassion fatigue” it is in Kibera!  The magnitude of the need is overwhelming!

 

 

   While I was in Kenya, the words above from “Mary’s Song” kept resonating in my spirit. Just as the Virgin Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, the resulting words of her “Magnificat” are pregnant with implications for each one of us.  Every line reminds us of some truth about God and His priorities for us. 

   Mary began by “… rejoicing in God my Savior.”  Those words remind us that God is a relational God.  That First Christmas was a revelation that Christ came to make God known so He could be anyone’s and everyone’s personal Savior.  And since God is good all the time, He loves to give His children “good things.”  But the best thing He wants to give is the “gift of salvation.” Following that primary gift, He delights in giving His beloved children “good things.”

   Paul underscored this truth when he warned the wealthy Christians of his day not to “… put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain.” Rather, he encouraged them to “… put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (I Tim. 6:17). So, contrary to a lot of negative thinking about God, He is not some “celestial Scrooge” who wants to take away everything “good” in life. No! A thousand times NO!” As our “Abba Father,” God delights in giving “good gifts” to His children! At Christmas He gave the BEST GIFT of all – the Lord Jesus!

   However, many of our brethren in the Two-Thirds World have a saying: “God is a good Provider but a poor divider!” That means from their perspective God has disproportionally provided “good things” for Christians in America – leaving Christians in the rest of the world with little more than the leftover “crumbs of life.”  Sadly, this “poor dividing” is not the work of God – but rather the work of greed.  The spiritual and economic imbalances of life are largely the result of man’s doing – not God’s. The overwhelming majority of the problems in the world are “man-made” as a result of sin, selfishness, pride, greed, lust, prejudice and hatred.

   The Good News of Christmas is that God’s gift to mankind through Christ reverses this spiritual and economic imbalance. Mary, the mother of Jesus, saw this truth through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. As a poor peasant girl in her teens, she praised and magnified the Lord because He had “ … been mindful of the humble state of His servant.” And while He had exalted her because of her humility, he had also “… scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts … but had lifted up the humble.” And in doing so, He had “ … filled the hungry with good things but sent the rich away empty.

   Sadly, so many of us “rich Christians” in America are “possessed by possessions.” That’s why from “Black Friday” through Christmas Eve, we frenetically rush around buying and giving “stuff” that can never satisfy the deepest hungers of our soul! The problem is that we “hunger” for the wrong things. We passionately desire riches rather than righteousness. We prefer to sit on Santa’s lap with our “wish list” rather than rest in the arms of Jesus and enjoy “… every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” through Him (Eph. 1:3).

   In His post-Christmas Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded us that it was the “… poor in spirit” who inherit the Kingdom of God. It is those who “… hunger and thirst for righteousness” who will be filled” (Matt. 5:3, 6). Everyone else goes away disappointed, disillusioned, “empty-handed” and empty-hearted.

 
We drove our van as far down into Kibera as we could
on the dirty road, then walked the garbage filled paths
to meet the children.

 
Due to recent attacks and robberies of white foreigners, we had to
go in with armed police escort. Two of our team members, 
Richard Moore and Arie VanWingerden, paused for a picture with our guards.

 
Several of the Street Boys helped us carry in the gifts that we had brought
for the children, while former Street Boy, George Odhiambo, paused
for a picture with Richard Moore.  This was Richard's first trip to Africa.

   My recent time in the slums of Kibera again drove these truths home to my own heart. Kibera is reputedly the largest slum on the African Continent with over one million people crammed into one square mile of squalor. We have worked there for over 25 years – trying to make a spiritual and economic difference in the Name of Christ. And our annual “Christmas Party” for over 300 poor children was another small way of bringing the light of the Gospel into that dark area.

 
When we arrived, the small church building was filled to overflowing
with children happily awaiting their Christmas party! Former Street Boy,
Pastor George Odhiambo pictured at right, founded and directs this
"Adventure School" for over 300 children.

 
It was a joy to have Larry & Mary Warren join us for this Christmas party,
especially since we started this program together in Kibera over two
decades ago. At right, Mary enjoys a few close moments with one
 of the children, who are always eager for some hugs!


Larry shared some words of encouragement as George translated.

   I hope the following pictures will help you focus on the real meaning of Christmas – bringing joy to others in the Name and nature of Christ. When you open this report, we will still have one week before Christmas Day. And as you do your last minute Christmas shopping, I hope many of you will send in a gift by PayPal so we can sponsor more “Christmas Parties” for all of the orphans and needy children in our Homes in Africa and Asia

A CHRISTMAS LOVE FEAST

  
Hand washing before the Christmas feast, where each child brought their own
plate. The children especially enjoyed this Christmas feast as it included beef, 
in addition to the usual rice, beans and spinach. Normally, the meals are
meatless except on special occasions such as the Christmas Feast.

  
The smile says it all!

 
Arie and Richard enjoyed their time with the children.

A PERSONAL SODA

   For many of the children, it was the first time in their lives that they enjoyed the luxury of their very own soda!

  

  
Good to the last drop!

GIFTS IN CHRIST’S NAME

  
Each child received a small gift, thanks to the giving of our partners in America.
Whether a pencil, toy car, rubber ball, or a pair of socks, the children 
were so thankful!

  
For most of the children, this was the first "new toy" they had ever had!

  

   We still need to send $300 each to the following Children’s Homes for a Christmas Feast and gifts:

  • Champa Choeling Tibetan Home in Nepal
  • Himali Children’s Home in Kathmandu
  • Bethany Children’s Home for Bhutanese in Jaigaon, India
  • Calcutta Happy Home in Kolkata, India

   So as you enjoy your Sunday School Christmas Party, Staff Party, or Business Party for your employees, add one of these homes to your Christmas Party List.  It will be a “double blessing” for you and them!

   Thanks for helping us sponsor this “Christmas Party” in Kibera. It brought great joy to the children’s hearts and stomachs! Now, please help us give each one of the children in our Children’s homes some of the “good things” we have in such abundance in America!

Giving through His love & compassion in partnership with you,

 & 

JL & Patt

PS:  It was a special joy to meet one of our other former “Street Children” who is now saved and successful because of the transforming love of Christ that touched her when she was a young child in Kibera.

  
Meet Sera Wangare, former Street Girl (pictured at left when we
first met her many years ago in the Kibera slum), and her
daughter Marybell. Sera now runs a beauty salon and records
Christian music. What a joy it was to hear her sing at the Christmas party.
She is a real trophy of God's grace - made possible 
by the prayers and gifts of our partners!  

 

YEAR END GIVING

As the year comes to a close, it is not too early to prayerfully plan for your year end giving, whether through monetary donations, items for our partners, or Stock Transfers. Please contact us at JL, Patt & Friends, PO Box 4066, Glen Raven, NC  27215 or jl@jlwilliams.org. for additional information, or click here on www.jlwilliams.org/donate to give via PayPal. Also, you may click here to view our catalog of "Kingdom Advancing Christmas Gifts" for some "last minute" gift suggestions.

Finally, my book on Christmas, When God Became Man, is available for your devotional study during the holidays. Just click on the picture of the book to download, and to start your daily journey through the Christmas Story!


 Merry Christmas, and God bless you!


 

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