Adults

The Blinders Are Off

I grew up in rural North Carolina in a small town that was similar to the fictional Mayberry. Farming and fishing were the main industries, and families working together brought a closeness and a feeling of security that you cannot find today. Everyone knew all their neighbors on a first name basis—doctors, lawyers, merchants, farmers, fishermen—it didn’t make a difference. It was a stable, comfortable life, and my husband and I were only vaguely aware of the evil all around us until we had children.

During the 1970s we became deeply concerned about the changes we saw taking place in the world our children would inherit! The cultural changes in families, the increase in divorce, the use of drugs and alcohol, and the “anything goes” attitude of the younger generation. However, our children were still young and the evils we saw and heard about on radio and TV seemed far away from us—no need to worry—or so we thought.

Give and Pray

It is December, time to trim the tree, decorate the house inside and out, and send Christmas cards. Not to mention shop. Shop for family, friends, co-workers, the pastor’s family, the mail carrier, Sunday School teachers, and school teachers. Then there is the entertaining, baking, Christmas parties, Christmas cantatas, and everything else that we are supposed to do in December. Wow! Are you tired yet?

All these things are so fun and make Christmas special and memorable, but they aren’t what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about the incredible Gift that was given to us all, Jesus. We need to make sure that all our activities are about Him and not just about the holiday.

Light Makes a Difference

Light is beautiful. And fascinating. Light makes a difference. It changes darkness instantly. There is so much darkness in our world. What would it take for God’s light to shine in new ways this Christmas season?

I watched a documentary recently on the Star of Bethlehem. It is amazing all God did to point to the Christ child, to celebrate this awesome gift. A light, pointing the way.

I wonder, how can we point others to Christ during this special time of year? How can we be light to others? Would there be a simple, humble corner of the earth where we could be that light, even to those as meek as shepherds? And would God use it to call even people as important as Magi from the East, to Himself?

A Mission’s Drive

It’s that time again! Time to set aside our Christmas offering for international missions. I confess I never really paid too much attention to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® that my church promoted every year. Sometimes I would write a check, but I didn’t always.

That changed when my husband’s brother received an appointment as an international missionary. That’s when I discovered the importance of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

My brother-in-law’s family spent 10 years in Malaysia. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provided financial support and helped them fulfill their mission.

Missionary families depend on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for their ministry and livelihood. For those of us who can’t go, giving is one way we can help fulfill God’s commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). 


Sandra Knox Miller writes from her home in Sylacauga, Alabama. 

 

 

Cultural Exchange: Invite an International College Student Home for Christmas

Imagine being a college student from India, China, or Uganda studying in America. Everything is strange and new. Then, the second week in December, there is a mass exodus from the campus. Your roommate, everyone in the dorm, and the professors are going home for a holiday called “Christmas.” At the mall, there are festive decorations, people scurrying to buy gifts, and children in line to see a fat man in a red suit, while chipmunks sing about hula hoops.

For the more than 723,000 international college students, the typical Christmas hype in America may be confusing and weird. Unfortunately they may never experience the true meaning of the season.

“Many international students never visit in an American home,” said Phyllis Hoover, coordinator for international student services at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee. “For those who do so, they feel especially fortunate.”

This Christmas, make an international student’s season merry and bright. Invite him or her to come “home for the holidays.” Plan an afternoon or evening get-together:

Opening Doors in Difficult Times

There are so many reasons that living in South Sudan would be difficult. Civil war has been a part of life for decades. First the southern part of Sudan fought with the northern part until it broke away in 2011. Then disagreements between factions in the new government began to escalate into violence.

But for missionary Carrie Lewis, those concerns are just the background noise that she lives with daily in South Sudan. She also has to forgo the luxuries of a hot shower or an occasional fast-food meal. Since her family lives far from any large cities and relies on solar power in its home, life takes on a much slower pace.

The Lewis family, originally from northeast Louisiana and southeast Texas, is ministering to the Toposa people of South Sudan. Life among these people is not only slow but also very relational, Carrie said. “If you are on the way to go somewhere and a visitor stops by, you are expected to stop everything and visit as long as the visitor wants.”

Reaching a Salad Bowl of Cultures in L. A.

If you asked Send City missionary Robby Pitt which people groups he was trying to reach, he would have a hard time giving a short answer. The city of Los Angeles is so diverse in so many ways that it would be hard to pin down.

Just start with the size and the population. “Greater L. A. has over 19 million people,” Pitt said. Those people are spread over a vast geographic area that includes 70 miles of coastline, large areas of desert, and the 10,000-foot Mount Baldy. The city has 4 million people in 114 neighborhoods. The county as a whole has 10 million, with 88 cities.

Then consider the language barriers Pitt faces. “Over 55% of the population speaks a language other than English at home.” And knowing a little Spanish would not solve the problem—as many as 224 languages are spoken in Los Angeles County.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Brian and Becky Harrell

Former local witch doctor Adelina is still following Christ. Shortly after her conversion, she came to a meeting covered in painful boils. Becky Harrell was teaching about how following Jesus is not always easy. When Becky spotted Adelina sitting in the dirt, covered in boils, she thought she would use Adelina as an example of faithfulness in hard times. So Becky asked Adelina, rhetorically, if following Jesus was easy.

Adelina responded, “Yes. It is easy.” Becky thought she must have misunderstood the question and asked her again. Adelina had the same reply and added, “Before I followed Jesus, I used to live in fear of the spirits, but now I have peace.”

In a village where Adelina shared her testimony, an old woman gave her life to Christ. This woman’s family had hired a witch doctor to build a spirit hut for her to help her through severe sickness. When she came to Christ, she demanded that the spirit hut be torn down despite her family’s threats of not taking care of her and making her pay back the money that had been spent to build the hut.

A World Day of Prayer

A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking at our Associational WMU luncheon held in observance of the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer. What made that day memorable for me was not that I was the guest speaker, but what I learned through my preparation.

My text was from the book of James about Elijah’s prayer life. The phrase that captured my attention said that Elijah was just like us (James 5:17).  Elijah was a prophet. He did so many extraordinary things that I never thought of him as just an ordinary man. But that’s what he was. There was nothing special about him. Yet, his prayers affected the forces of nature.

When we gather to celebrate the World Day of Prayer, the Lord is listening to us just like he listened to Elijah. Our world needs prayer—now more than ever before. Let’s be faithful to join together and pray for our nation and our world.

Stay Connected

A lot of reasons seem pretty valid for disconnecting with someone these days. With the ever-growing use of social media, it’s fairly easy to get offended by some thought your classmate from kindergarten posted that you never would have known if she hadn’t been awake at 3 a.m. with no one to talk to. A lot of Christians may choose to stay away from social media for this very reason. Not this girl.

I am absolutely grateful for such unique ways to connect with people. Here I am, approximately 909 miles away from my parents on a daily basis, but I can still see anything that is going on in their lives that they want me to see! When I turn FaceTime on, no matter who I’m calling, my son now says, “Memaw? Memaw!” because he knows that usually his Memaw’s face is going to pop up. He’s going to get to grow up knowing her face, just because of technology like this! We can share videos, pictures, posts, deep thoughts, and even the thoughts that come across our mind that generations before us would never have dreamed of sharing!

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