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Christmas is a time for prayers and miracles, and one often follows the other. Rosalin from Virginia shared a story that proves God sometimes shows a very personal interest in us, if we’ll just ask Him into our lives. She wrote:

"Years ago, when our children were younger, we ran into hard times. It was a Wednesday morning, and Christmas was on Saturday. We had no money for Christmas gifts and no savings in the bank. My husband was home without work as a carpenter. He suggested we join hands and pray, which we did.

Three hours later, friends of ours called from New York to tell us that they'd received a large Christmas bonus from work, and God put our family on their hearts. They told us they'd sent us $350 through Western Union...not knowing of our situation. We picked up the check and went Christmas shopping. It was a GREAT lesson my children will NEVER forget!"

Thank you, Rosalin. That's a great story that none of us will ever forget!

'The Hungry Times'

December 24, 2022

These days, too many people are trying to take religion out of the Christmas season. It sometimes makes me think, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do…or what they’re missing.” Maybe this letter will make it clear.

A Reverend wrote to me from Malawi:

“After having been raised up in urban North American culture, it was refreshing, but also a bit disorientating, to spend my first Christmas in Africa in 2009. There was a Baptist Church of course, but no Christmas Trees and no caroling in the streets, and no mad dash to the Mall to buy presents. The mixed congregation of ex-pats and nationals who attended the Christmas Sunday service sang the carols we were accustomed to, but there appeared to be far less excitement…

This is the ‘Hungry Times’ when most folks, aside from us ex-pats, are living off of the stored up remnants of last year’s harvest, with an eye to how little there is left and how long until the next harvest comes in. Nevertheless, on the morning after Christmas, we were all called to return to the Church and bring food and clothing and the Word of God and prepare to visit Zomba Central Prison to distribute some hope and good cheer.

This Prison is a daunting facility built by Colonialists in the 1930's that, today, houses twice as many inmates as it was designed for. We shared the goods and the Gospel with inmates, in both men's wing and women's wing. And so, for me, began a ministry of Prison Chaplaincy in the Prisons of southern Malawi.

…It’s ‘Hungry Time" again, but I thank God that the inmates are hungry for the Gospel. In the six Prisons and Prison Farms where we work, we have seen over 240 decisions to accept Christ (including many from Muslim backgrounds) and 160 inmates Baptized and inmates are being transformed by the power of God. Some of those counseled before release are eager to return to their villages and tell others of the one who came as our Savior that first Christmas morning. And for that, I'll forever enjoy a different kind of Christmas.”

Thank you, Reverend, for sharing your unique Christmas experience with us. If you’d like to learn more about the fine work done by Emmanuel International Mission in Malawi and elsewhere, you can read about it online at www.EIM-US.org

On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of the One who told us, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” But on holidays like this that emphasize parties and socializing, many people feel lonely or abandoned. This year, even people who normally get invitations may be feeling lonely and isolated. They may not realize how many people really do care about them. Let this story from Linda in North Carolina be a reminder:

"Several years ago, we had a family up the hill who were having a very rough time. They had broken glass in their windows, no heat and no prospects for a nice Christmas.

We got neighbors together and one day when they were gone, the men went up and put in new glass, bought heaters and warmed up their trailer and went to get them a Christmas tree. The ladies and kids made ornaments, went to stores and got donations of toys and clothing, food and electric blankets. We all met at the trailer, cooked, decorated, put up the tree, wrapped packages, and made beds with the new blankets then went to our home to wait for them to return.

A while later, the family came running down the hill in the snow and flew into our house, trying to tell us through tears what someone had done. The mother couldn't believe that so many people cared about them. She didn't realize it, but being able to do that for them made Christmas very special for all of us.”

Thank you, Linda, for that perfect story to remind us that the gifts that give us the most satisfaction aren’t those we get, but the ones we give to others.