When I came to Central Asia, I thought that for once I’d be able to just have one Christmas party. Not that I hate Christmas parties. Far from it. But I’m sure most of you have experienced the “joys” of going to two Christmas parties on Christmas Eve and two or three on Christmas day.
But little did I expect that in Central Asia I’d get to participate in more Christmas parties than in any other year of my life. Over the last week, we had SIX separate Christmas parties at our leaders’ apartment. There’s only room for around 30 people, and, let me tell you, in the last 4 months, we’ve certainly made enough friends to fill all of them. We’ve been playing games, singing Christmas songs, eating stew, and sharing the Christmas story. It’s been powerful. Everyone at the parties has also been receiving Bibles in either the local language or Russian, whichever they consider to be their native language.
Let me share some of the stories that came about just from the last week. Several people have come more than once (and with us not watering down the story, that tells us that it’s connecting with them).
- Our friend Albina told our leader’s wife that she will always remember the night of the Christmas party as one of the highlights of her life, even until she’s an old woman.
- Another girl told me that she’s dreamed of going to a Christmas party since she was a little girl.
- Saule, a girl who can be difficult to talk to because of her intense desire to learn English, came twice, and told one of our female team members that she’s been reading her Bible and can already feeling herself changing. She asked if she can come to her with questions about it.
- Our friend Zhadra told us that she will definitely begin reading her new Bible.
- Bulat, a minor celebrity on campus who’s the MC at a lot of local events, asked if he could have two Bibles so he could give one to a friend.
- My friend Jazz, an atheist since his cousin’s death, has been getting closer and closer to God this whole semester. Every night, our team leader, as he’s been sharing the Christmas story has been pausing in the middle to say that music, as demonstrated in the choirs of angels, is from Heaven. He wasn’t sure why he’d been sharing this until the night Jazz came. You see, Jazz plays guitar, and our leader turned to him in the middle of it and said, “That’s why you love the guitar.” Apparently, it really spoke to him, which he told one of my teammates afterward.
God is doing amazing things. This Christmas, God has given me—given us—one of the greatest gifts. He’s allowed us to share His story to over 100 people who had never heard it before. And He’s already shown us that this gift will not return void.
God bless you this Christmas. May yours be as merry as mine has already been. As the internet is especially bad tonight, I’ll have to post pictures later.
Last minute addendum:
Last night, Christmas Eve, the Christmas choir that our team created sang at the local international church. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I wanted to sit and read and be lazy. It’s Christmas time! I wanted to sink into decadent selfishness! But seriously, I wanted to do as little as possible—it’s been a hectic four months. However, I’m glad we had the opportunity to come because tonight was the answer to a thousand prayers. At the end of the Christmas Eve service, the pastor closed by inviting anyone who had never known this King whose birth we were celebrating to come into relationship with Him. One person raised her hand. And that person was Rimma, our precious friend, a part of our choir, who we’ve been pouring into, loving and befriending all year.
As the angels sang 2000 years ago,
“Glory to God! Glory in the highest!”
Rimma at one of the Christmas parties (She helped at several and has quite the servant’s heart.)