Dr. J. L. Williams was an evangelist and teacher who traveled around the world in apostolic ministry as God led and enabled him. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, he mentored key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures. He was relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships. J. L. went home to be with the Lord on December 28, 2016.
Dear Family & Friends,
One of our great joys through these more than 45 years of marriage and ministry is to send out our annual “Family Christmas Card.” In the early days, our cards pictures Patt and me with our 4 children at various ages. Then their spouses were added as they got married. Now we have the joy of sharing our grandchildren with you. And we also love sitting down day after day during December and opening Christmas Cards from so many of you. Keep them coming! Now we receive many via email—which is cheaper and faster for all of us. But regardless of the form, we love these Christmas communications from friends and partners like you!
In many way, the Bible is God’s Christmas Card to each of us. In the Advent Stories recorded in Matthew and Luke, there are many different Christmas messages. Through pictures and script, each one has been portrayed on Christmas Cards year after year. Perhaps the greatest Christmas message of all is the prophetic words the angel announced to Joseph: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him IMMANUEL, which means, ‘GOD WITH US’” (Matt. 1:23). That assurance of God always being “with us” rather than “against us” or “aloof from us,” has been especially precious to Patt and me this past year. In spite of some major family and ministry transitions, we have experienced the intimate “with-ness” of God in so many ways through His Word…through His Spirit…through His people!
When I was in Africa earlier this month, I preached on this topic of God being “with us” through Christ in every situation. I believe the principles are just as relevant for us living in America as for our brethren living in Africa—or in Asia or anywhere in the world. Let me share the outline with you for your Advent Meditation.
God is “with us” in our…
1. PERPLEXITIES: For Joseph and Mary, that first Christmas was surrounded by great spiritual, mental and emotional perplexities. We read that after the angelic announcement to Mary that she was “greatly troubled” (Lk. 1:29). That’s perplexity personified! What God was asking both her and Joseph to do was beyond their human comprehension. It made no sense. To become pregnant outside of marriage was a possible death sentence for Mary and an inexplicable social stigma for Joseph! Neither their parents, family or friends would believe that they were not guilty of sexual immorality. No one would believe that they were not fornicators or adulterers. Everyone in their world and in ours knows that pregnancy only comes from sexual relationships—not the Holy Spirit! No one would believe that they had really had an angelic visitation! A virgin conception was just as incomprehensible and unbelievable then as now! Babies come from sex—not from the Spirit! So how could they possibly explain this pregnancy outside of marriage? How could they make their parents understand that they were still sexual virgins? How could they convince the local rabbi at the Synagogue of their spiritual fidelity and sexual purity? How could they avoid public humiliation—and possible stoning? Their perplexities were unrelenting!
But in spite of her mental confusion and emotional fears, Mary acquiesced to God with these incredible words of relinquishment: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). And with equal faith and abandonment, we read that ”...Joseph woke up and did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matt. 1:24). Both of them laid it all on the line for the Lord! They “bet their lives” on Him! That’s the spirit that made Christmas possible!
What perplexities are you struggling with this Christmas? Is it about finances? Is it about your job? Is it about your children? Is it about a sickness? Is it about an aging parent? It matters not whether your doubts and perplexities are of the mind, emotion or will, they cannot be more ominous or daunting than the ones Mary and Joseph struggled with. The only way to find mental, emotional and spiritual victory is through the same faith, relinquishment and obedience that Joseph and Mary demonstrated. Without their total surrender, we would not have Christmas. And without your total abandonment of self you will not have a real Christmas either. So give God the same gift of relinquishment that they gave. Then you can really celebrate Christmas!
2. PARENTING:Being a parent is never easy—whether in the First or Twenty-First Century. Parenting is the single highest calling in life. It is also the most demanding. That’s why so many adults seek to postpone or escape parenting. To be a good parent requires turning from a self-focus to a focus on your child. From the moment of inception a parent can no longer think in terms of self—or even in terms of two. They must develop an “other mentality” that supersedes our natural selfish singularity or self-serving duality. There is now a “third party” in their lives who will demand a total shift of focus. That’s a tough calling for the most mature among us! But for a young peasant Jewish girl in her early teens, this unexpected and untimely calling to motherhood was frightening beyond words! It is hard enough to be a good mother to a normal baby—but to a supernatural one?! This one who was sired by the very Spirit of God rather than by Joseph! To give your virgin womb to one of whom the angel had said would be the “holy one” who would be called the “Son of God!” This was totally incomprehensible!
But God gave this young pregnant virgin a mentoring relationship with a more mature older woman—her cousin Elizabeth, whom she went to live with for a few months. One was going to be a mother in her old age and the other in her teenage years. Both were miraculous conceptions from a human perspective. So they would prayerfully walk the parenting path together. How good of God to give the gift of wisdom and maturity through Elizabeth to this young virgin from Nazareth!
Like Mary, there are so many struggling, insecure, fearful young mothers who need an Elizabeth in their lives this Christmas! Perhaps some of you women reading this message may be just that woman. You are God’s Elizabeth for some young mother. I urge you to give your gift of wisdom, maturity and experience to some younger mother this Christmas—and on into the New Year—for as long as she needs your encouragement.
And for Joseph, a young Jewish apprentice carpenter, the responsibilities of providing for a new young wife who was pregnant was a social and economic challenge. But he rose to the challenge. He did not blame God for his difficult situation. Unlike so many today, Joseph did not develop a “victim mentality.” Nor did he have a sense of “entitlement” that caused him to look to others to meet his and Mary’s needs. “He did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (Matt. 1:24-25). What a simple but profound description of masculine leadership...husbandly authority...fatherly responsibility! How much those same gifts need to be given this Christmas by so many of us husbands, fathers and grandfathers!
Both Joseph and Mary gave great gifts of selfless parenting to each other and to Jesus that first Christmas. Dare we as parents give any lesser gifts this Christmas to our children?!
3. PAIN: It is impossible to separate parenting from pain. They go together. They are inseparable. Pain is the flip-side of pleasure. That’s why it is absolutely impossible to parent without pain. Painless parenting is an oxymoron! A contradiction of terms. As a result of sin and the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden, parenting and pain are life-long companions to one degree or the other. God said to the first mother, Eve: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing” (Gen. 3:16). In addition to the now normal physical pain of child birth, Mary would experience an even greater spiritual and emotional pain as the mother of the Messiah. The aged Simeon prophesied to her that when this child was grown He would be a source of unspeakable pain to her and others: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,” Simeon said, “and a sigh that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Lk. 2:34-35). So for Mary, the physical pain of child birth would be greatly surpassed one day as she would have to experience the spiritual pain of watching her Son be vilified, persecuted, rejected—ignominiously crucified, prematurely killed and buried as a condemned criminal in a borrowed grave!
For Joseph, the pain of parenting would largely be his responsibility to protect and provide for Mary and Jesus—along with their other children (Matt. 13:55-56), with a constant dark cloud of doubt and suspicion hanging over him as a young blue collar entrepreneur. Many of you hard-working fathers reading this can fully relate to Joseph’s struggles. You understand his pain of always trying to pay the bills…make ends meet…stay ahead of your creditors…meet the expectations of your wife and children…be a good father.
Pain has many faces. Whether for Mary and Joseph or for you and me, pain is unavoidable in a fallen, rebellious world. And while Christmas is surrounded by awe and wonder, it is not make-believe. It is not pietistic Pollyanna. Christmas is not a spiritual cocoon that securely isolates us from pain. Nor does it encapsulate us in a comfortable velvet-lined environment filled with nothing but predictability, peace, prosperity and pleasure. The Advent cannot protect us from tragic events in life—whether it is suffering, sickness, pain and death—either for ourselves or for our loved ones. In our fantasy we wish that were the case. Life’s rude interruptions impose upon us a different reality—wrapped in varying shades of pain and anguish! It was an unavoidable gift for Mary and Joseph. It is for us also. But while I do not know the nature of the pain of your spirit, soul or body this Christmas, I know that Immanuel will still be “with you” through every tear and fear! That’s the assurance of Christmas.
4. POLITICS: We generally do not associate Christmas with politics. We like to try and “forget politics” during the Holidays. Now that the “Lame Duck Session” of Congress is over, we want to completely wipe politics out of our mind! But Christmas and politics are inseparable. That first Christmas was played out in a politically-charged atmosphere for Joseph and Mary. In fact, it was their political situation that precipitated and dictated much of the major events of their first Christmas together as husband and wife. It was the ”...decree of Caesar August that the entire Roman world undergo a census” that put everything into motion for Mary and Joseph. And it did so in the most untimely and inconvenient season! As always, a census like this was for the purpose of taxation—just as unpopular for Joseph and Mary as it is for most American citizens today!
The astute historian, Doctor Luke, also tells us that this census took place when “Quirinius was governor of Syria” (Lk. 2:1-2). This little line of Holy Writ gives us another trustworthy indicator of the timing of the Christmas narrative. It firmly roots Christmas in historic soil. It was the political situation then that lifted Christmas out of the realm of fantasy and mythology and anchored it firmly in the annals of history—thanks to Doctor Luke! This census—much like the one we have just gone through in America, required Joseph to leave their home in Nazareth and go by foot and donkey to his home town of Bethlehem to be ”...registered with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him” (Lk. 2:5). And this first political dynamic orchestrated by Caesar Augustus was soon followed by another more sinister one by King Herod—the paranoid military strongman and architectural genius who was ruling Judea through political intrigue and ruthless power! We will look at his political intrigue more in the next point.
Ultimately, it would be the power politics of the Jewish religious leader and Pilot that would lead to the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Neither Jesus’ birth, life nor death were lived out in a political vacuum. He lived His brief life in a politically-charged environment that was more hostile than peaceful. While we can all wish for a political utopia, no such government exists here on planet earth. Never has. Never will. Or not until the Lord returns to set up His earthly Kingdom. So, political tranquility did not exist for Joseph and Mary, or for Jesus. It doesn’t exist for us either. Like them, we will always struggle between the tensions of being a good citizen of our country and a loyal citizen of the Kingdom of God. Sadly, we Christians are increasingly seeing that the Twenty-First Century is proving to be more and more hostile to the true meaning of Christmas—just like in the First Century. The more things change, the more they remain the same. As the song writer penned: “This world is not a friend of grace to help me on to God.” That’s why it is bloody spiritual warfare every step of the journey!
Once again, we see how very relevant the Christmas Story is to our day. Most of the countries I travel and minister in are also in constant states of political upheaval and turmoil. Whether it is Haiti with her recent corrupt and fraudulent elections…Burma’s on-going military dictatorship…Zimbabwe’s failed economy due to President Mugabe…the growth in India of the Hindu Fundamentalism…possible renewed Civil War in Sudan after the January 9th Referendum…Nepal’s decade-long struggle with the Maoist Extremist…Sri Lanka’s continuous battles with the Tamil Tigers and radical Buddhism…or radical Islamic Jihad on a global basis. A quick overview of history and contemporary events clearly proves that the vast majority of the world’s problems are politically induced! They are incited by political power-mongers who gain and hold onto power—regardless of the cost or consequences to their people. Because of tribalism, caste-ism, cronyism, greed, corruption, bureaucracy and ineptness—injustice, ignorance, inequality and inequity are the norm for a vast majority of people around the world. Where there should be plenty and prosperity because of abundant natural resources, grinding poverty reigns for the masses. Thankfully, Christmas is no stranger to this political reality! Joseph and Mary lived under it all of their lives. So will we. It’s a Christmas reality.
5. PERSECUTION: Tragically, politics often leads to persecution. First, it is directed to any and all who dare to oppose those who are in power. Political incumbents can turn into a political incompetents as they blindly hold onto power. Whether in the First or Twenty-First Century, the top priority of politicians is to perpetuate themselves—at all cost! As the political maxim says: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!” So, power and the Party become more sacred than the people. Party platforms and political promises are quickly compromised and sacrificed on the altar of expediency. Any serious threat to their power and authority is usually decisively dealt with. Deadly force is used against potential contenders to the throne! We see this same reality in the Christmas Story.
When King Herod heard from the Magi the news that One had been born who was “King of the Jews,” terror and anger filled his twisted, paranoid mind! His political history had already shown that he would go to any lengths to hold onto to his power. History tells us that he had killed members of his own family because he feared their potential rivalry. A popular proverb said: “It is safer to be Herod’s pig than to be one of his sons!” So when Herod heard that there was a newborn “King of the Jews” who had been revealed to Magi living far away in the East, he set his political intrigue into motion. But his political savvy was no match for God’s sovereignty. Rather than return to Herod’s palace with the location of the Christ Child, the Magi were warned in a dream to return home by a different route. Enraged by this double-cross, Herod unleashed a diabolically-inspired attack against Jewish families. Realizing that he had been politically out-manuvered by the Magi—through the leading of the Holy Spirit—Herod unleashed a bloody genocide against the little boys in Bethlehem two years old or younger. Surely this mass murder of innocent little boys would eliminate this one who was recently “born King of the Jews!”
While this unthinkable genocide was totally unexpected to Joseph and Mary and the inhabitants of Bethlehem, it was another historic fulfillment of prophecy that is totally inexplicable outside of the divine revelation of the Bible. Jeremiah had predicted hundreds of years earlier: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matt. 2:16-18). And as Joseph and Mary fled this genocide, they became refugees in Egypt until Herod died. Once again we see how relevant the Christmas Story is to the millions of people around the world who have been forced to leave their homes and countries and reduced to refugee status! Christmas is a fresh annual reminder that God fully understands homelessness. In a very special way He is “Immanuel, God with us” when anyone becomes a refugee in a foreign land. Each time I am in a refugee camp or among the homeless in slums and ghettos, I am reminded of this incarnational truth that only the Christian Gospel reveals. That God left heaven and came to earth and “pitched His tent among us” so He could be “with us” in any and every situation. That’s why Christmas is indeed “Good News”! Show me a god or goddess who has gone to this length to say: “I love you! I will always be with you!”
6. POVERTY: Because the political balance of power tipped toward the elite ruling classes, the masses of people that first Christmas lived below the poverty line. The vast majority of the Roman Empire lived in political and economic servitude. Joseph and Mary would have been numbered among them. That’s because they were members of a despised race—Jews, who were living under Roman occupation. Contrary to the false teaching of the “Prosperity Preachers” and “Prophets for Profit,” fidelity to the Gospel does not always lead to “health and wealth living!” Instead, it can lead to privation, poverty and persecution—not privilege, peace and prosperity. Having your first child born in a cattle stall—wrapped in rags and cradled in a manger where cattle ate their hay and fodder—is a far cry from where most new parents want to start out!
Since Joseph was what we would call a “common laborer” or “blue collar worker,” he no doubt struggled to pay his bills and meet the needs of his wife and growing young family. We also know for certain that Joseph and Mary started out very humbly because of the sacrifice they made at the Temple after ”...the time of her purification was over.” It was then that they presented Jesus to the priest as their “first born.” We are specifically told that their burnt offering and sin offering they gave was ”...a pair of doves or two young pigeons,” which was the sacrifice of the poor (Lk. 2:24; Lev. 12:8). At this time in their lives, Joseph could not afford to even buy a lamb for sacrifice. No prosperity living there! No lavish post-Christmas life-style for Mary and Joseph!
But in spite of the fact that Joseph spent his life working with his hands, he gained a positive reputation around Nazareth as perhaps the best carpenter and stone mason in the area! And in good Jewish fashion, Jesus was mentored by His father as the first born son in that same honorable vocation. In fact, Jesus spent far more time as a carpenter working with His hands than He did as an itinerant preacher. He was the Messiah of manual labor. That’s why Jesus gained the same reputation as His father, Joseph. Around Nazareth, Jesus was called “the carpenter’s son” or simply “the carpenter” (Matt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3). That speaks volumes. Those descriptions show that in people’s minds, Jesus could not be separated from his vocation as a “Master Carpenter.”
What a great and practical gift God gave us at Christmas through “Jesus, the Carpenter!” Because of His many “silent years” of faithful hard work and sweat in the carpenter’s shop, Jesus forever dignified manual labor as the highest possible calling. Since Jesus worked most of His life with His hands, it was the first place that He learned to please His earthly father and glorify His Heavenly Father! Because of Jesus and Christmas, work and worship would forever be inseparably connected. Work is the gift…and worship is the gift wrapping! Both are offered to God in an inseparable package of love and adoration.
Whatever your vocation—as long as it is honest and honorable—offer it afresh to God this Christmas as your worship! Just as the Magi ”...bowed down and worshiped Him” and then ”...opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts…”, you do the same with the treasures your hands have produced—whatever they are. I can assure you they will be an acceptable Christmas gift to the Lord Jesus. To do anything less is to sell yourself short of your Christmas birthright!
7. PASSING: Finally, Christmas reminds us that He is “Immanuel, God with us,” not only in our passing through life but also in our passing from this life. This of course brings us to two aged saints at the end of the Christmas narrative: Simeon and Anna. Both were in the last decade and days of their lives here on earth. But how does Christmas relate to the elderly? After all, isn’t Christmas for children? Aren’t the Holidays primarily for the young? No, not if you have the spiritual perspective that Simeon and Anna had. You see, they had patiently waited all of their lives for this promised Christmas Gift that the prophets had foretold. Most of their contemporaries no longer seriously believed in the “Messiah myth”—much less longingly looked for Him by faith, as they continued to do. It seems that age sometimes has a way of dulling the spiritual senses along with our other ones. Unfulfilled longings have a way of jading our perspective. Cynicism replaces optimism. Desires give way to depression. In any century, it’s hard to “grow old gracefully.” But Simeon and Anna had done so.
Look at Simeon first because he comes first in Doctor Luke’s narrative. His bio is succinct but significant. We are told that he ”...was righteous and devout…and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” What a resume! I would like that to be said of me—wouldn’t you?! But not only did he live a life of spiritual piety, He still lived expectantly. Old age had not destroyed his spiritual awe and sense of anticipation. We are told that “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.” In other words, He was waiting for God to comfort and console His people by fulfilling His promise to send His Messiah. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that ”...he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” But day after day…week after week…month after month…year after year—the Messiah never came! Nevertheless, even in his sunset years, he never lost hope. He never gave up. He never quit believing. He never stopped going to the Temple. He never stopped looking. He never stopped anticipating. He never stopped believing that “this could be the day!”
One of the key Christmas Scriptures says that God sent His Son “...in the fullness of time.” For Simeon, the fullness of time had finally come. But he did not know it immediately. This day seemed like all the rest. Then God surprised him. At the exact time that Joseph and Mary were there in the Temple making their sacrifice for Jesus ”...according to the Law of Moses,” God’s Spirit prompted Simeon to go to God’s House. “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the Temple Courts.” There he waited in the Spirit. “When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required,” Simeon was at the right place at the right time. As a result, He did not miss God’s timeless Christmas Gift to him and the world! What a lesson this is in consistency! Spiritual persistency. Simeon’s life was a “long obedience in the same direction.” And God rewarded Him with this incredible Christmas Gift—at just the right moment!
But what if he had given up? What if he had lost hope? What if he would have given in to cynicism? What if he would have lost his sense of spiritual expectation? What if he had stopped going to the Temple? What if he had said to himself and God the day before: “God, this is my last visit to the Temple! If you do not come through with Your Messiah today, I will never return! I will not look again. I will not believe Your Word any longer! This is Your last chance to prove Yourself!”
But Simeon kept going. He kept the faith. He continued to live and walk in the Spirit. He stayed involved in God’s House—even with all of its spiritual corruptions. As a result, he was led to the right place at exactly the right time to see God’s Messiah. He didn’t miss God’s Christmas present to him. So we read: “Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God.” What followed was a profound prophecy concerning the coming ministry of the Messiah: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.”
Then as Mary and Joseph wondered and marveled at this prophecy over their infant son, “Simeon blessed them.” He then gave that heart-rending prophecy to Mary about the death of her Son that would cause her heart to be pierced as with a sword! Words she did not fully understand then but would prayerfully ponder for years to come. One day she would fully know and personally understand the painful reality of Simeon’s prophecy over her and the Baby Jesus. But for now, she dwelt on Simeon’s blessing of them and how her infant Child would somehow be God’s “revelation to the Gentiles” and “glory for her own Jewish people” (Lk. 2:25-34).
After that brief but profound encounter with the Infant Messiah, Simeon passed off the scene and off the pages of Biblical history. But he could now “depart in peace” because His eyes had seen the fulfillment of God’s promise. And His arms had cradled the Christ Child near his heart that had so long been close to the heart of God. What a passing! What a way to end life! Not in a fighting reluctance but in a joyful relinquishment!
But before Simeon passed on, he left us with one of the earliest “Great Commissions” in the Gospels that this Christ Child was not just for the Jews. He was no parochial God. He was no tribal deity. God’s Messiah was for the whole world! In addition to being God’s Gift to the Jews, He would also be a ”...light for revelation to the Gentiles.” Therefore, we must never separate Christmas from either the “Great Command” to LOVE or the “Great Commission” to GO! That’s why you and I must do anything and everything possible to take God’s Christmas Gift to the world! That’s the “Christmas Commission” that Simeon proclaimed. We must do the same.
Then there was Anna. She was an aged prophetess. When we first meet her, she is “very old.” Eighty-four to be exact. After just seven years of marriage, her husband had died. She had been a widow ever since—virtually all of her adult life. No children or grandchildren that we know of. Maybe she and Simeon were wrinkled, grey, stooped-shouldered and slow moving. One thing’s for sure, she was alone. Widowhood can be extremely lonely in any century. But she didn’t give in to pity. She gave herself to prayer. Rather than fretting, she fasted. Instead of worrying, she worshiped. We are told that “She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying.” And just like with Simeon, the Holy Spirit led her to the right place at the right time. In spite of the daily throngs of people going in and out of the various precincts of the Temple, the Spirit led Anna right to the parents of Jesus. “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:36-38). Along with Simeon, Anna became one of the first evangelists of the Good News of the Christ Child. After that brief divine encounter Anna had waited for through eight long decades, she too passed on into eternity. But not before she was able to give her Christmas gift to Christ. And her life of faithful widowhood is forever immortalized through the Christmas narrative.
Some of you reading this Christmas Meditation have lost loved ones this past year. They “passed away” from this life to the next. Some passed quickly. Others passed agonizingly slow. Some left this life because of disease, accident or just old age. Some passed with keen minds imprisoned in infirmed bodies. Others did so with minds dulled by dementia or deadened by Alzheimer’s to the degree that they did not know who they were—much less who you were. But the Christmas assurance is that He is still “Immanuel, God with us.” He knows us when we do not know ourselves—or others. And He keeps us when we cannot keep ourselves. Our senses are under His sovereignty. Christmas reminds us that age is impotent before God’s omnipotence!
So whatever you may have passed through this past year—or may pass through in the months and years ahead—He has promised to be your Immanuel! He will be “with you”—no matter what! God has promised: “When you PASS THROUGH the waters, I will be with you, and when you PASS THROUGH the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you PASS THROUGH the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior” (Isa. 43:2-3).
That’s what Christmas is all about. Nothing more. Nothing less. He is your Immanuel who has promised to never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). He loves you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). He is the only Person who perfectly knows you and yet unconditionally loves you! Therefore, He will be “with you” at all times and under all circumstances—whether in you perplexities…parenting…pain…politics…poverty…persecution…or passing. No human event can trump or triumph over His Advent!
It is Patt and my prayer that you will experience His being “with you” more intimately this Christmas than ever before in your life! He wants His presence to be your present this Christmas! It’s waiting for you beneath His Christmas Tree—the Cross of Calvary! So go ahead…kneel at His Christmas Tree…receive His gift of grace…unwrap it by faith…and live this next year “with Him” because He is “with you”—now and forever!
Enjoying His Presence and Presents,
JL & Patt
“…the Magi…bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh”
Dear Ministry Partner,
This is a pictorial guide of some of the gifts our ministry and partners like you contributed to Kingdom Works in Africa this year.
click here for the pictorial guide
Thanks for helping me empower them with the spiritual and physical tools they need to see God’s Kingdom advance in their countries and cultures. Remember: My priority has always been to encourage, equip and empower the national to do what he can do best in his country and culture. The local “sons of the soil” have always been God’s means of advancing His Kingdom!
I hope you will be blessed and encouraged as you looked at the strategic and practical Christmas presents you helped me give in Africa in His Name.
Each of these gifts freshly confirmed to our African brothers and sisters the Christmas message that Christ is indeed “Immanuel, God with us!” (Matt. 1: 23).
Look and be blessed at the gifts you have given through us!
Giving Gifts in His Name,
JL & Patt
The gift of a free flight back home to see his parents and family after weeks in the hosptial
Little Moses was delighted to get to fly in our chartered AIM Air flight to South Horr. He had to have surgery on his left leg after falling into a fire and being badly burned.
The gift of a new well for the Samburu Sports Camp & Farm
The gift of water is the gift of life. These Turkana women who have to walk an average of 20 miles to find water!
Giving a cup of cold water in His Name.
Stakwell with one of the Turkana women who is so thankful for this water delivery from our well at South Horr.
The gift of new soccer balls.
The gift of a new buoy swing brings delight.
The gift of a new zip line and a new experience for the children.
The gift of play—a rare treat to these poor Samburu children.
The gift of new clothes sent over by my grand sons.
The gift of a new kitchen for the Sports Camp.
The gift of a goat roast for a Christmas Feast. Eating meat is a rare treat for these people during this time of drought.
The gift of used suits and sport coats for rural pastors donated by one of our partner churches.
The gift of clothes for women and children donated by another partner church.
The gift of medicine and medical supplies donated from several hospitals in NC.
The gift of hospital beds from a hospital in NC that we shipped over in a container
Hospital beds and mattresses for the Regional Hospital in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
The gift of a water tank and tower for a farming project in Hwanke, Zimbabwe.
The gift of drip irrigation, seeds and vegetables for students of the Eben Ezer Bible College, Hwanke, Zimbabwe.
The gift of a new “Student Rondoval” for students at the Bible College—this was the 4th with 4 more to build.
The gift of lumber to build bunk beds for the Bible College Students who currently sleep on the two classroom floors.
The gift of office furniture and books for the Bible College
The gift of new mattresses—no more sleeping on the hard cement floor!
The gift of being saved from death in an accident when a cow ran across the road in the dark. As I tell people, driving on the mission field is the single most dangerous thing I do on each trip!
The gift of a short nap on a traditional “Samburu pillow!”
The gift of security when napping in hostile territory!
The gift of friendship with well armed guards. These guards are a new focal point of ministry for Stakwell and me through solar digital players.
The gift of love and compassion. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brethren of Mine, you did for Me.” Jesus Christ.
Please read the full report by clicking here.
Dear Partner…I experienced my Christmas today beyond measure! To go with my friend, partner and son, Stakwell to take fresh water to a remote Turkana village was off the charts! These women have to walk 20 miles to get water. We need a sponsor for this outreach to make a weekly delivery rather than whenever stakwell can come up with the extra funds to buy fuel. The cost would be $200 a month—and the Gospel goes with each delivery. That would make Christmas a weekly experience for these dear people and would lead to the salvation of many of them ad they meet the Living Water, Jesus Christ. Remember the Lord’s exhortation to give a cup of water in his Name—which would lead to an eternal reward. If you watch this brief video clip you will thank God afresh when you turn on your faucet and have plenty of running water—in either hot or cold! I will send you much more after I get home.
Read on to see some video clips and photos from our outreach.
I leave the bush tomorrow to fly to Zimbabwe—so keep on praying daily for me. And if you have not already done so, please send in your Kingdom advancing Christmas gift from the flyer Patt and I recently mailed out. Thanks on behalf of my national friends and partners you are ministering to this Christmas through us.
In His Healing Love,
Dear Friends…this is why I always need your prayers! We are involved in an “out of the box” ministry of reconciliation between the Samburu and Turkana tribes—historic enemies here in Northern Kenya, with my dear partner, Stakwell Yurenimo.
We are flying this young boy back home after severe burns from a fire. What a joy to be able to help like this.
In His Healing Love,