Contributed by Kathie Barousse
I’ll never forget our first Christmas on the mission field in Russia in 1993. We had been in country for seven months during a period of economic upheaval and empty grocery shelves. Since nary a ham or turkey was to be seen in the marketplace, my husband Victor had been eyeing a nearby neighbor’s gaggle of geese for some time. With his very limited Russian, Victor managed to negotiate a fresh Christmas goose for our table, to be hand delivered on Christmas morning. When the goose was tardy, he trudged once more to visit our elderly neighbor, who attempted to back out of the deal. When my husband wouldn’t budge, she begrudgingly chased down a goose, chopped off its head and threw it and the flailing body into a cold metal pail! After racking our brains and perusing a Cajun cookbook, we singed, plucked, cleaned, stuffed, seasoned and roasted our first ever fresh goose, which, by the way, was delicious!
Since that memorable first Christmas on the field, our family has spent many a holiday in our overseas adopted home, fulfilling our calling to the nations while separated from our American family. There is no other time of year more closely associated with warm memories, special family traditions and longings to be together with those dearest to you. Truly many holidays were bittersweet, especially in the early years. Over time I learned how to find my joy and peace amidst the holiday season, even when separated many miles from my older children, parents, relatives and friends.
Here is a list of ideas many have found helpful for holiday seasons:
• Set aside special times of worship, thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in a new way during this season. His Presence will bring joy and peace. .
• Incorporate some of your own special family traditions right where you are – decorate your home, bake and cook your favorite foods or substitute new ones, invite guests, give gifts, sing carols, improvise, be creative. Make it memorable, fun and Christ-centered as your disciples will adopt what they see you do. We used to have a Christmas cookie decorating contest with our Russian team. Everyone loved it!
• Regarding keeping your Christmas Christ-centered, you will find two excellent articles here and here.
• Make time to connect with family and friends back home via Skype, Facetime, etc. This can be a challenge when they are halfway around the world, but it is so crucial for your heart.
• Set aside some time to rest, rejuvenate, and focus on your family. Ministry can be super hectic during the Christmas season, but don’t let it take the place in your life that belongs to family and the Lord. We all need our Sabbath rest.
• Expect the Lord to fulfill His promise in Mark 10:29-30. Thank Him that He will bring many precious new people into your lives! My children had many aunts and uncles in our adopted country who loved them dearly and filled in the gaps left by the absence of their family.
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:29-30
Our prayer at the Go To Nations World Headquarters is that you will be filled with His presence, joy, peace, love, hope and a renewed awe at the birth of our Glorious King - Christ the Lord. We pray you have many opportunities to share about His true love for the nations..
We wish you a blessed Christmas and fruitful New Year in 2016