By David Johnson
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” is a nice line in a song, but only a dream for so many around the world. My journey with Jesus on behalf of the poor began several years ago in Kenya, but this past summer it took an unexpected turn to take my wife and me to the place God wanted us to be. Just like God grabbed the attention of the Magi through a star in the sky, inviting them to embark on a long and arduous journey to find the true King, God grabbed our attention through an invitation to go back to Africa and look again at the critical needs of mothers and children.
We were amazed at the compassion and commitment of trained home health volunteers who visited 50 new or expectant mothers monthly. They taught prenatal care, the importance of a healthy diet, about immunizations, and the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. When special needs were discovered, these home health volunteers helped mothers and babies get to local or regional clinics for professional assistance. They provided all of these services for a stipend of just $10 a month! Just like the Magi, our journey was worth the time, the planning, the preparation, and the risk to see the work being done to help children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Talk about big dreams—the glorious news of Christmas is that God so loved the world that He came to where we were, to rescue us, in our desperate need. Emmanuel, “God with us!” But more than just coming to us and being with us, God became one of us! He took upon himself our human nature, our condition, entered into our suffering, struggle, and pain. “The Word became flesh…!” How big, amazing, and miraculous is that? God the Creator became the most vulnerable, at risk, creature—a human baby! God forever demonstrated the worth and value of mothers and children by sending His Son into the world as a baby through the womb of a mother.
So what does this mean for us who have accepted and experienced this love? We are to be continuations of the incarnation, “wrapping and unwrapping in our flesh” the love of Christ in action! The star shown to the Magi shows us that God wants to be known by the whole world and not just a select few. These Persian astrologers, their families, their nation and people, mattered too. Just like the refugees fleeing Syria, just like all of the other displaced, disenfranchised, cold, thirsty, hungry, and needy people of the world—they all matter to God! Not only do they need to hear of the Christ of Christmas, they need to see Him, feel Him, and experience Him present in their lives, through our lives, our hands, our feet, our voices.
The Wise Men challenge us to follow our “star” wherever it leads. They call us out of our complacency, out of our comfort zones, and into the margins, not fearing but facing the “Herods” and “puppet kings” of our world on behalf of the poor and powerless. Christ calls us to present our gifts and treasures to Him by sharing them with others in need. Will we be willing to embark on this journey that helps others’ dreams come true? Jesus did not come to make us safe, but to make us courageous so the world could experience His love while wide awake.
Dream big this Christmas but not just for yourself. Dream of the difference you can make in the lives of others! Become an advocate for those whom most of the world has forgotten. Since my wife and I returned from Kenya, we have been meeting with our Senators and Representative urging them to sponsor legislation that will provide life-giving resources to mothers and children around the world.
Would you like to help Christmas be more than a dream for those in need? You can! Currently, there is legislation that will help implement more efficient, sustainable approaches for saving the lives of moms and babies. Today you can email your Congress members asking them to make a difference in the lives of these moms and babies by cosponsoring the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2016. Join the Wise Men on their journey to worship the King, but not just with words or tongue, but also in deed (with actions) and truth! (I John 3:16-18)
David Johnson, and his wife, Roxanne, have two grown children – daughter, Adrienne, and son, Nathan. David and Roxanne reside in Mountain Home, Arkansas where David serves as the Founding and Senior Pastor of Christ Community Church (C3), which will celebrate its 4th anniversary on January 15, 2016. David’s daughter, Adrienne, has been to Kenya on three separate occasions, two of those occasions being vision trips with World Vision.
Photo: Three camels and their handlers pose next to a manger with Christmas lights on the door. Bayankhongor ADP, Mongolia. © 2015 World Vision/ photo by Jon Warren