When I read the word for Advent this morning, World, so many images came to mind.  I pictured the celebration of Christmas around the world in so many cultures, languages, with various traditions and customs- all so beautiful!  Of course “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” popped in my head as well.  Truly, we have a reason to celebrate and a reason for real and lasting JOY!  I also thought of Luke 2, the Christmas story, and once again mediated on the fact that the Gospel is for all people around the world.  The angel declared that this baby boy would be good news of great joy for all the people!  

And the angel said to them,
Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
(Luke 2:10-14)

Isn’t it amazing, too, that the heavenly host in their praise song declared that there would be peace on earth among those with whom His favor rests?  Peace around the world- isn’t that something of which we all dream and for which our spirits long? Yet we feel so very caught up in the midst of strife after strife.  But, it is truth: Jesus is our Peace.  He is the Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and He is coming again to reign.  As we celebrate Advent, we remember His coming 2000 plus years ago, but we also await and anticipate His second coming, His ultimate and final reign, when He will make all things right again and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  We long for peace, because we were made for peace.  I wrote a worship song recently called “Like the Dawn” (I can’t wait to share this one with you all!) and the chorus goes like this:

Jesus is the name that brings us Peace.

Jesus is the name of Victory
Emmanuel, You came to give us Life.
Crucified with Christ, we are Alive!

As we consider the gift of Jesus, the gift of Life, the gift of the Savior, the gift of Peace and how this Great Gift of Christmas is for the entire World, my mind drifts off to friends near and far- especially those in faraway lands.  Tonight I am praying a special prayer for five people that are a part of our family, but we won’t get to see this Christmas…our Compassion sponsor children.  Julieta in Guatemala, Ronald in Uganda, Mixi in Indonesia, Livia in Brazil, and Namata in Uganda.  I share a lot about our baby boy, Joey, with you all, but I want you to know, these 5 children and teens are so incredibly special to us and a true part of our family.  Although we haven’t met all of them yet (I dream of that experience this side of heaven for each one of our Compassion kids- I’ve had the incredible joy of meeting several sponsor kids over the years in Africa, Asia, and Latin America), I imagine what Christmas will be like for them this year.  When I receive their letters int the mail, I can’t tell you how excited I get.  I want our Joey to experience that excitement and that connection with them as he grows.

Julieta is such an artist, so creative and thoughtful-I love her drawings and she writes beautifully.  Ronald is a true leader, very gifted in sports and music and in so many areas, but also a prayer warrior with strong faith. Mixi’s letters are filled with affection, enthusiasm, and expression- she’s just precious.  We don’t know little Livia yet because we just began her sponsorship this week as the Lord put her on our hearts, but we are excited to get to know her!  Namata has a passion for sharing the Gospel and truly serving others- she shines!  Just as parents love to “brag” on their kids and show others how special they are, I want to share our sponsor students with you all, because each one is so dear to Jamie and me, and to the Lord.  We believe, in faith, that God is doing something mighty in each one of their lives.   (I am so proud of my sponsor kids that have graduated as well!!  They are forever a part of my heart and my life!)  So this Christmas, I try to imagine what it would be like to celebrate Jesus’ birth in Guatemala, Uganda, Indonesia, and Brazil.  I have a little nativity which I bought in Uganda in 2010, when I met Ronald and Namata (and dear Whitney, who has graduated).  That nativity is a reminder to me that the Christmas story is not just for us here in the United States, but for all people, in all times and ages, and in every country around the world.  The Christmas story is for young and old alike, for poor and rich alike, for men and women alike, for every nationality, tribe, and tongue.  Jesus came to rescue each one of us, and He is the giver of peace- peace for the soul and peace on earth.

Thank you for letting me share these five important young ones with you. Their pictures light up my own face as I see the God-given life and potential and purpose in each one of them!  I can’t wait to see all that the Lord will do in their lives!  I want to also encourage you this Christmas- if you want to be a part of what God is doing around the world, why not take that step to sponsor a child in Jesus’ name and become the encouraging cheerleader in his or her life?  Exchanging letters and photos is so fun, so simple now with options online. For just over $1 a day, you could change the life of a child forever.  For a little one living in the dark shadows of poverty, you can help shine the light of Christmas into their lives by lifting them out of their circumstances and into hope- hope found in Jesus.

Compassion’s program is Christ-centered, Church-based, and all about Children.  It’s not a community development or relief program, but rather a child development program, truly investing in the God-given potential in each child’s life.  I love Compassion’s commitment to integrity, financial accountability, and most-importantly, their unapologetic commitment to Jesus and the Gospel.  I love that Compassion empowers the local church in countries all over the globe to really reach the children in their communities in the ways that are most needed. I love that my relationships with my compassion kids is so personal and special.  If you are at all interested in sponsoring, here is a link with the children who have been waiting the longest– some of them over 365 days.  Wouldn’t it be the most incredible Christmas gift ever for one of these children to find out that you chose them- that you decided to be their sponsor?!

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

To finish today’s Advent Journey, let us praise the Savior of the WORLD with

Joy to the world!
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing…

Joy to the earth!
The Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy…

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found…

He rules the world
With truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love…