Christmas time for me includes lots of family.

Baking parties, food, games, movies, hanging out, football, caroling, Christmas Eve candlelight service, and reading from Luke together—all traditions that have been observed by my family for years.

This year, I was in Kampala, Uganda for Christmas with the Nasir team.

Christmas Eve was a great time. We had our big Christmas feast and then sat around chatting and catching up on the YouTube videos we had missed while in Nasir. The day was filled with lots of laughs. I was presently surprised that I wasn’t missing my family too much.

Later that evening, after watching Polar Express with the Ginters and Laura, I decided to make Christmas cookies. Every year, making and decorating Christmas cookies is something I do with my mom and siblings. As I was slathering icing on the cookies, I began to hear the roar of laughter coming from the house next door. It was 10pm by now, and as I listened more, I deduced that all the commotion was from a family gathering together on Christmas Eve.  

Listening to this directed my thoughts to my own family, and how I wouldn’t be with them on Christmas. Suddenly, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I tried to fight them back, but soon they were streaming down my face (it didn’t help that the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was playing in the background). After finishing the cookies, looking like a soggy mess, I made my way up to my room to call my mom (I’m so thankful for Skype). Talking with my parents cheered me up and helped me to see the bigger picture.

Yes we are apart, but we are all healthy and safe. I was reminded of the unrest in South Sudan, and how much of the country seemed like it wasn’t going to have a merry Christmas.

So I began to reflect on the true meaning of the Christmas season. If it wasn’t for that starry night in Bethlehem, I wouldn’t be in South Sudan. Christ came to earth so that we can be reconciled to God through His blood. In doing so, He left his throne in heaven to come down and be born in a lowly stable amongst the cattle (after living in Nasir for a few months and being constantly surrounded by livestock, I understand this better---it’s smelly and noisy). Why? Simply, because He loves us, and His love is what saved me.  His love is what has led me to South Sudan. His love is what will bring true peace to the South Sudanese.

Since we’ve started a new year, would you make a commitment to join me in prayer, daily warring for the Prince of Peace to pour out His love on the South Sudanese?

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7