All around the world, Christmas is celebrated through the lenses of various cultural traditions and perspectives, all pointing back to the hope that we find in Jesus Christ! And while culture and tradition may vastly change what Christmas looks from one part of the world to another, the holiday can also be changed through lens of personal perspective and experience.
COUNTING BLESSINGS: LET’S KEEP A THANKFUL, HEALTHY OUTLOOK
Here at LSM, our mission is to help and empower the world’s most vulnerable children, those who have suffered as a result of human trafficking, starvation, and extreme poverty. Even here in the United States, suffering has increased this year due to a global pandemic and a subsequent nationwide economic downturn affecting local businesses and jobs. Pains like these are even more deeply felt in developing countries that don’t have safety nets and economic surpluses to fall back on.
As we enter this Christmas holiday, let’s not let the disappointments of this year cause us to forget that there are still many in this world who are worse off. Let’s remember to count our blessings and to remember that our “rock bottom” would be considered a “mountaintop” for many in this world!
Let’s look to Scripture, our guide to understanding the mind and heart of Christ: the meaning of the Christmas season. Here we find plentiful reminders that his heart is with the last, least, lost and lonely at all times – but even more at this time of year. As we gather with family – or perhaps schedule video calls instead – let’s reflect on these passages below, and remember to say a prayer for those who have no family that loves them. How can these individuals ever hope to experience the love of God, if not for the Hands and Feet of Jesus?
IN THE SEASON OF FAMILY, GOD’S HEART IS WITH THOSE WITHOUT
James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Matthew 5:3-4 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Psalm 146:9 “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:3 “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 68:5 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
Psalm 68:6 “God sets the lonely in families.”
INVISIBLE SCARS OF TRAUMA IN HAITI AND THE LONG ROAD BACK
One of the darkest realities in Haiti is the restavek system, which is a system of child slavery that results in all imaginable forms of abuse and deprivation. The children LSM helps are either former restaveks or are in a situation of desperate poverty that puts them in danger of being trafficked. The kinds of hardship our children have experienced results in psychological trauma, meaning our kids come to us mentally and spiritually broken. We can’t simply put them in school and hope for them to succeed. Our recognition of the deep soul surgery that our children need to heal and thrive is what led us to establish our Trauma Recovery program, which provides our children with the spiritual tools they need – not only to lead healthy, well-rounded lives, but to become leaders and help others in their communities.
A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS GREETING FROM OUR CHILDREN IN HAITI
In 2020, our children took a moment to say “thank you” to our donors here in the United States. Without your generous gifts, it wouldn’t be possible for LSM to help bring about God’s redemptive work in the lives of children. One of the most powerful lessons we teach our kids is through the LSM Gospel Project, in which our children go out into their communities with humanitarian supplies and evangelistic materials. The takeaway that we teach our kids is that when we’ve been blessed, God wants us to bless others in return. As you and your family count your blessings this holiday season, please take a moment to consider how God is calling you to partner with us to bless LSM’s children in Jesus’s name, empowering them to become leaders and pay your gift forward!
HOW DO HAITIANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?
Haitian families celebrate the birth of Jesus by decorating their homes with candle-lit paper lanterns called “fanals” and candles called “petas.” On Christmas Eve, Haitians traditionally attend church and sing songs like “Minuit Chretien,” their version of “O Holy Night.” After church, families return home to celebrate Christmas together. Children enjoy playing “wosle,” a game similar to jacks. Popular food items at these gatherings include pumpkin soup and “kremas” or eggnog. Haitians rarely exchange gifts for Christmas. As we thank God for our family this Christmas holiday, don’t forget to thank God for the broader family of God – and the incredible opportunity we have to serve one another!
>WHAT CAN I DO?
- You can learn more facts and statistics about how Christmas is celebrated around the world at WhyChristmas.com. And while learning about the countries and peoples of the world, perhaps use the site as an opportunity to pray for them. Ask God to move in their lives.
- You can follow all of our other Christmas coverage on Facebook and Instagram, including our Year-End 2020 video and more!
- Finally, open your Bible to Luke 2 for a great reminder of what the season is truly all about. How does God sending his precious son to earth inspire and compel us to live differently? Perhaps in 2020, you have a new idea for how you would like to partner with LSM as we spread the hope of Christmas to all by serving the world’s most vulnerable. Tell us your idea, and let’s work together to shine the light of Christmas around the world in 2020, starting in the darkest places!