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Preparing to Celebrate the Light of the World

By Kate Borders | Sr. Project Director

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14

‘All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).’ - Matthew 1:22-23

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it....  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” - John 1:1-4,14

I enjoy getting excited about Christmas, yet my heart is heavy for all those who won’t have the opportunity for joyful celebrations; the struggles of life don’t take a break for the holidays. How do I, as a North-American follower of Christ, celebrate Christmas in a way the honors Christ and also honors my brothers and sisters around the world who are spending themselves to care for children in need?

I remember when I was 18 years old, a freshman at Wheaton College, and the Lord was starting to open my eyes to what life is like around the world, and particularly how many children are suffering. That year when I tried to shop for Christmas, the crowds overwhelmed me, a mother yelling at her children devastated me, and I ended up back home at my parents’ house sobbing, because I felt like the masses of people at the mall were completely missing the point. No one was thinking about Christ. They were stressed rather than excited about getting gifts for their loved ones, and they were not thankful for the fact that they were safe and had the means to shop.

For years, although I enjoyed the time with my family, I really struggled with how to balance the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas in America with the reality of all the people who are suffering and not able to enjoy Christmas. As a follower of Christ, how should I think about that? How should I approach Christmas?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but after almost 15 years of wrestling with the questions and thinking about how I’ll approach Christmas with my own daughter, these are my thoughts:

  • Gift giving is biblical. All throughout scripture, the old and new testament, God is pleased when people honor one another and honor Him with lavish gift giving. Do we have to be careful? Sure. It’s easy to get carried away and have our focus be cultural rather than biblical. But it can also be a wonderful thing to have a special time each year to intentionally honor those we love by giving them gifts.
  • Scripture is clear that as humans we need to remember and be reminded. In the Old Testament, God told His people to have stones and places of remembrance, and He commanded them to celebrate things year after year. Why? Because He knows our tendency to stray and to forget. So yes, the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas in America is a challenge for Christians, and we have to be intentional about celebrating in a way that honors Christ. But, it is a wonderful thing to have a time each year where we stop and remember, to remind ourselves of what it means that the Father sent the Son, that He was born as a baby...
  • And why do we need to be reminded that Christ was born? Because it changes everything. Immanuel, God is with us! “The Word was with God, and the Word was God....and He came to be with us! Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind....” Because Christ came, we have life. He made the way for us to be acceptable to The Father, for us to be sons and daughters of The Most High God.  That truth affects every moment of every day. May Christmas be a time to celebrate that and to remind us of the awesomeness of the Gospel.

As I think about our World Orphans partners around the world, likely weary from the struggles of caring in the midst of suffering, and likely without the means for the festive celebrations many of us in the US will enjoy, I pray they are overjoyed by the reminder that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. I pray they are encouraged as they remember that in Him is life, and that His life is the light of all mankind. And I pray they will know immeasurable blessing because they are reflecting that light as they care for those in need.

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Giving Thanks

By Jeremy Resmer | Sr. Projects Director

It’s that time of the year again. Time for putting up decorations and lights, overindulging in food, giving gifts, year-end bonuses, secret Santas, ugly sweater parties, opening presents, and, best of all, getting together with family and friends. Everyone seems to be in a good mood. While there’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to celebrate or people willing to “share in the joy,” we often ignore the best part of all. It’s the reason for the season, but it’s not the birth of Christ.

The reason for our joy is the opportunity to give thanks, not only for the birth of Christ, but also for his perfect life, death, and resurrection. Each Christmas, we commemorate our Lord’s birthday and frequently usher in the New Year through the renewal of our physical and spiritual bodies (if at least for a short while anyway). It’s our annual wake-up call to get our lives in order, get motivated, get healthy, and get back on track by setting goals.

However appealing this approach may seem, getting serious once a year works about as well as praying once a year, reading the Bible once a year, or going to church once a year. In most instances, it doesn’t. It doesn’t glorify God nor does it reinforce what we were created for—to be in fellowship with God and to share the good news of Jesus with all the nations.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In all seasons, on all holidays, and in all circumstances, we celebrate with our creator and humble ourselves to the glory of his holy name.

This year, live bigger and better than ever before. Don’t just give gifts or have a jolly old time at Christmas. Give thanks each and every day. Ask God how you can glorify his name and be used to reach the nations and the neighbors. Give thanks, and it might bring purpose to your joy.

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His mother murdered, young boy taken in by church

By Kathy Davis | Holistic Care Lead

Meet Milkessa from Ethiopia.

Milkessa was rescued about a year ago.  His biological father got drunk, came home and killed his mother with a knife.  He then fled the area and no one knows where he is.

Milkessa was rescued, yet his other five brothers and one sister still remain in danger.  Milkessa is now safe at one of World Orphans children's home. A young boy without protection and hope now finds himself within the embrace of a loving father with the provision of spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental care.

We visited he and his new family while in Ethiopia recently.  My heart was deeply moved by the tender ways that his house father displayed loving affection towards the children within his care during our short visit with him.

It is for the rescue and plight of precious children like Milkessa that my heart is unraveled and then enlarged to do what I do.  This is my fifth international trip with World Orphans in one year and reentry following this trip has proved the most challenging of all.  Christmas decorations are in full swing...Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and indulgence is in the air.  How do I reconcile the suffering and need of this world with the indulgences of this holiday season?

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You can help children like Jeffrey by getting involved in our Home for the Holidays campaign or starting an online fundraising campaign.

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Spend Time With Friends, Change a Child's Life Through a Home for the Holidays Party

This year, you along with your closest friends can make an orphaned child's holiday wish come true. By hosting a "Home for the Holidays" party, you can celebrate with friends, discuss the orphan crisis and directly impact a child's life Every year, millions of children around the world share a single holiday wish. Instead of hoping for the latest toy or most popular game, these children long for something deeper, a home.

That is the focus of World Orphans and our church partners around the globe. Through the Continuum of Care model, the indigenous church is able to provide small family-style homes to hundreds of orphans in China, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and around the world.

We are grateful for your part in helping these children's dreams become reality.

We also know that there are thousands of people who are simply unaware of the global orphan crisis and do not know how they can help.

This holiday season World Orphans is launching "Home for the Holidays" - a fun and easy way to host a party with friends, family, co-workers,  and neighbors where you can share your passion for helping orphans.

We'll supply you with printed invitations, a Party Planning Guide and we'll even arrange to have one of our advocates come and speak at your gathering. Your Home for the Holidays party can be a simple dessert night or themed night centering on a specific country.

By hosting a Home For the Holidays party, you can help meet the needs of children around the world and give them the greatest gift, a home for the holidays.

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