At Christmas time we put up lights and try our best to bring joy into the darkness. But this world is still a dark place. A quick glance at the news and we see wars, storms, floods, fires, and pandemics. It can be hard to find light, but we still try. Even here in Japan, with so few Christians, people flock to amazing light displays put together by talented artists. But, despite our efforts to bring light to this world, here we stand more 2,000 years after that first Bethlehem Christmas, and darkness is still easier to see than light.
In my ministry among the homeless and poor, it sometimes seem like things are fully dark. Broken lives, broken relationships, loss of wealth and security, which can be compounded by addictions and health struggles.
Yet in this darkness there is the great and beautiful light of a redeeming Saviour that still shines through. Men and women come to our events because they are hungry and we are offering food. They know unless they accept the free gift of food, they may not get enough to eat. It’s a very humbling situation. Yet, it’s also a first tentative step into a new community, the community of a Redeemer.
I have seen a women in her 80s, who has never had a home or family to call her own, break into a wide toothless grin because she has found both food and people who treat her with respect. It’s a sight more beautiful than Christmas lights. I have seen a man with no shelter arrive, cursing the rain, only to leave praising God for the rain that brings life. In the dark places, the sparks are more beautiful than all the decorations we put up for the season.
Yet these ministries are also a place for more than just sparks. While most come just for the food, some come face-to-face with the most beautiful light of all and they leave changed. Some get motivation to find jobs and homes, and a way to support themselves. Yet, they come back, not to receive food, but to help share the light. Some even choose to remain homeless to share the light. They lead Bible studies, share testimonies, and share the great and beautiful light.
What lights are you looking for this Christmas?
By Rijke, an OMF missionary
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