Christmas in Haiti

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?

  1. 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.
  2. You can follow all of our other Christmas coverage on Facebook and Instagram, including our Year-End 2020 video and more!
  3. 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!

 


 

2020 Vision

 


 

Note: This message was recorded before the Coronavirus outbreak that has dramatically affected the U.S., Haiti, and Ethiopia in recent weeks. Therefore, the pandemic is not specifically mentioned or addressed in this message. Nevertheless, the key points of this video remain true.

 


 

𝗟𝗦𝗠 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗴 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗷𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗼 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬.

 

 

𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮 𝗳𝗲𝘄 𝗵𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀:

  • We see a recurring theme of multiplication across the organization.
  • We’ve launched Family Preservation and Discipleship programs in Ethiopia.
  • We’re in the early stages of beginning a new Kinship Care program in Haiti.
  • Here in the U.S. we plan to continue ramping up our BrickHouse program.
  • We look forward to continued engagement with you through events and media.
  • Thanks for your continued prayers and partnership during these trying times!

 


 

𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗲’𝘀 𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝗚𝗲𝘁 𝗜𝗻𝘃𝗼𝗹𝘃𝗲𝗱:

  1. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
  2. Invite your friends to follow us on social too.
  3. Sign up for our enewsletter and prayer list.
  4. Learn more about LSM Family Sponsorship.
  5. Give directly to support our work.

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD

All around the world Christmas is one of the most important and highly anticipated holidays of the year. But the way Christmas is celebrated often varies from country to country. Here are some holiday traditions from Haiti and Ethiopia, where LSM operates.

 

WORSHIP AND FAMILY TOGETHERNESS IN HAITI

 

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. Time spent with family and worshipping God are activities Haitians tend to value most.

 

 

Last year, the staff at our grocery store in Les Cayes played an important part in the seasonal landscape. More than a place to find fresh produce, vegetables, and dry goods, our store serves as a source of hope and community for locals. To further this mission and shine a light on the reason for the season, our staff got in the holiday spirit by holding a raffle and decorating the store, inside and out. Check out this video of their work. Didn’t they do a fantastic job?

 

 

GAMES AND FAMILY FESTIVITIES IN ETHIOPIA

 

Ethiopians follow the Julian calendar, which means they celebrate Christmas a bit later than we do. On January 7, they observe their version of Christmas called, “Gena,” meaning “the birthday of Jesus.” They attend church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and then return home. Children often play games like “Ye-Gena Chewata” which is a combination of hockey and soccer. Families also gather to enjoy their favorite Ethiopian dishes, such as “wot,” a spicy Ethiopian Christmas stew. Like Haitians, Ethiopian families do not usually exchange gifts. Instead, they dedicate their time to family togetherness and thanking God for sending his Son to earth!

 

 

In years past, our Ethiopian staff has marked the Christmas holiday with parties for the children, including crafts, lessons, food, singing, and giveaways of clothes and school supplies. One year, we celebrated by sharing the Gospel with locals and by handing out food and aid.

 

 

REMEMBERING THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

 

It’s fun to learn how Christmas is celebrated around the world, as well as the different traditions and values that are emphasized by various cultures. But no matter how we celebrate the season outwardly, what’s more important – and universal – is the celebration that takes place in our hearts. Merry Christmas from our LSM families around the world. As we celebrate, let’s keep Jesus first!

 


 

WHAT CAN I DO?

 

  1. 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.
  2. You can follow all of our other Christmas coverage on Facebook and Instagram, including the story of a young lady here in the United States who took action to raise money and help vulnerable children and orphans through our family assistance program in Ethiopia.
  3. 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!