In El Salvador, Christmas seems to have less of the materialistic busyness of the States, and more of a focus on the birth of Christ. We kept that perspective as we wrapped up our Christmas celebrations this week. We had a Christmas lunch with some kids from Apopa, a Christmas party with the Lighthouse homeless ministry, our staff Christmas celebration, and a party at CISNA.
Out of all of these celebrations, the one at CISNA impacted me the most. There were less boys than usual, because many of them are spending the holidays with some family member or friend. Maybe a parent, or grandmother, or distant aunt or uncle. But the others had no such family to welcome them for the holidays. There is even one boy who has been told by his own mother that she doesn’t want him. As a mother, I struggle to grasp how this can be. But pain like this is why Jesus came.
Emmanuel is a name the Bible gives for Jesus. It literally means “God With Us.” Our earth is a world full of pain and suffering. Just this week I only have to look around to see evidence of this. Children with no parents, suicide bombers, horrible flooding, and people dying from cancer. Why would God want to be “with us” in all of this? Why would God want to be part of this mess? Why would He volunteer to come into this world? To enter into our suffering?
Because of Love. It’s a great scandal. The almighty God of the universe laying aside His status to spend his time with homeless people, sick people, unwanted people. People who claim to love him, but live like they don’t. People that are petty, and judgemental, and angry. People who would eventually hang him on a cross and cheer as he died.
God With Us. God walking around with us, God suffering with us, God dying. Only our God suffers with His people. Only our God entered the world and chose to experience the horrors that are here. For love. Because He wants to know us.
The only answer to the suffering of our world is Emmanuel. The only answer to the sin and pain and distance from God is Emmanuel. Only through God entering our pain “with us” can we find an end to all pain. Through His death and Resurrection, we can know Him, we can be close to God, we can live.
Because of our life in him, we can find peace in the middle of our pain and reach out our hands to others. We have God With Us, and we have God In Us. He calls us to love the world, as He loved us. Our prayer for each of you this Christmas is that you would feel the love of Emmanuel and that you would show that love to a hurting world.
We thank you for loving the people of El Salvador this year. We were able to provide Christmas meals to 1,000 people through our ministries in Gerardo Barrios, Apopa, the Lighthouse, and CISNA. All of these ministries are dependant on your donations. Thank you for helping us to share God’s love. We hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
Presents for The Lighthouse.
Hanging out at the Christmas lunch.
Lorena, YWAM El Salvador staff member, sharing a devotion.
Making plates to serve Christmas dinner.
Cutting the Christmas cake
Tori and Ian were great helpers!
YWAM El Salvador staff Christmas lunch…glad to be part of such a great team!
Tori and Ian looking at all the fireworks at the CISNA Christmas party. In El Salvador, fireworks are a big part of celebrating “Navidad.”
Jon did a great fireworks show…the boys loved it!
And our kids loved it too! Especially the “blow-up” ones in the sky.