Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Christmas Reflections: He Will Save His People From Their Sins
We hope you all had a great, Christ-centered Christmas season and are off to a good start in the New Year. We must say that Christmas is probably one of our favorite times of the year. The colors, family get-togethers, giving and receiving of gifts, special things to eat, more than usual friendliness of strangers, songs about our Lord in nearly every store you go in, etc, etc, etc. It is just a great time of year!
It was a blessing to receive Christmas cards from some of you in December. We hope that you received ours in email. We had planned to send out this newsletter, but we could not pull it off as Steven had a very busy work schedule coupled with many family, church and personal holiday events. Anyhow, we thought you might be bombarded with update letters from various people and the chances of this one getting read would be slimmer.
Although Christmas is over we wanted to encourage you with some thoughts about our Savior that came to our minds as we thought about one of the many passages of Scripture that is emphasized during Christmas. It is found in Matthew 1:21 where an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
We have all, no doubt, heard this passage many times, but have you ever noticed the great implications of this text for missions? Consider the following thoughts with me. First, as many of you know, the name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Yeshua” or Joshua and means “Jehovah is salvation.” Isn’t it amazing that the very name of our Lord tells us something of His gracious mission to save people from their sins? Jesus is the greatest missionary that ever walked the face of the earth. He crossed the greatest cultural, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, linguistic, barriers that could have been imagined. And for what? To live and communicate the great message of the Gospel of grace to His enemies!
Second, Jesus came to save “His people” from their sins. This tells us that the Lord has a people for whom He came to live and die and rise again. And who are these people? Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 tell us that they are people from every tribe, nation, tongue and race. I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited. Think of what this means for missions and evangelism. His plan of salvation will culminate in complete victory. He has people throughout all the world that are just waiting to hear the Gospel that they might believe and be saved (whether they know it yet or not). The work He calls us to do in His name is never in vain though we don’t always see the results we think we should. We plant and water the seeds, but it is God who gathers in His people (1 Cor. 3:6).
So as you go forward in this new year, we want to challenge you to consider the part God wants you to play in the work He is doing in the world to bring people to Himself (and what a privilege this is!). Matt. 9:36 says, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” May our hearts also be moved in the same way.
Highlights from 2006!
This year was a year of NEW THINGS for all of us!
A new baby!!! Sam (4 mo.) has added a new joy and dynamic to our family. The boys just adore him and love to smother him with kisses and hugs continually. Zack keeps asking when I’m going to have another baby! Apparently 2 babies just aren’t enough :) Sam is a sweet and happy baby, full of smiles and is now rolling over!
Steven has developed a new talent—juggling! That’s right...he’s now juggling the responsibilities of running his own cabinetry business, working part-time on Ministry Partner Discovery, being a husband and daddy, and serving in the church. He’s looking forward to getting to Ethiopia and having a more centralized focus.
Jenny has entered a new decade and a new dimension of motherhood. She hit the big 30 (the same day Ben hit the big 1! It was a fun celebration.) and is now the mother of 4 boys, age 5 and under! She keeps busy changing diapers, home-schooling, learning about herbs and nutrition, reading while she nurses and just enjoying being at home with her boys.
Jake (6 in Feb.) has learned new skills this year as he began 1ST GRADE! He is reading!...and he loves it. He also loves anything which requires his creativity– especially making crafts, drawing, and experimenting/exploring in the backyard. He loves Jesus and is often heard making up songs of praise to God and singing them as he works around the house.
Zack (4) has a new depth to his prayers this year! He says, “I love you so much Jesus and I wish that I could be up in heaven with you right now, but I can’t.” He is so cute and such a sweetie. He is doing school with me and Jake and is really good at puzzles and coloring in the lines. He especially loves playing with Ben, kissing Sam, slumber parties with Jake and being a little jokester. He keeps us all laughing.
Ben (17 mos) has experienced a whole new world this year– from learning to crawl, then walk, run and talk (his own kind of language that is)! Whoops! I almost forgot, wrestle! He gets right in there with his brothers as they tackle Daddy during “play with Daddy time.” Ben has an exuberant personality, adding such fun and laughter to our home.
Pray for Peace in the Horn of Africa
In our last issue we asked you to pray about tensions that were mounting between Ethiopia and a growing Islamic fundamentalist group that was gaining strength in Ethiopia’s neighboring Somalia. In early December, Ethiopia went to war with the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia in efforts to protect its own national security and to help promote peace in the region. According to Ethiopian officials, they have met most of their objectives of removing Islamists and could be leaving Somalia within a couple of weeks. Of course, the work of establishing a stable Somali government must now be done. Please pray that there would be peace through this process. Pray that there would be a greater openness to the Gospel with the strengthening of the Somali transitional government. Pray for the many Somali refugees who have fled to Ethiopia and Kenya. Pray that God would use this situation to build His Kingdom in ways we could have never expected. For more details see the VOA link on our website.
We are excited to report to you that God is continuing to bring supporters to join with us in our ministry. We are so thankful to all of you who have partnered with us prayerfully & financially. You are such a blessing! For those who are interested here are the monthly giving stats:
We have also received several special gifts for which we are very grateful. Everything we receive right now is critical to getting us to the field more quickly.
If you are reading the email or web version of this prayer letter and would like to begin supporting us you can go to the home page of our website at www.menafamily.org to find out how. In our Links section on the left side of the page there is a link called “Partner with Us.” Click on it for more instructions.
We praise the Lord for His provision and look expectantly for what He is still going to do.
Posted by Jenny