/Monday, December 13, 2021
I cringe when I hear ... “let’s bring the troops home by Christmas”.
Equally, I feel a pang of sadness when I scan the scrolling Facebook status updates these days … “so happy, the kids will all be home for Christmas”.
For too many years I lived on the other side of those sentiments. No, we the troops of God’s salvation army wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas to be with family we desperately missed. Our parents never got to share the anticipated excitement with their friends that their kids would be back home to celebrate Christmas with them. They too knew the pain.
Ambassadors of the Bethlehem King
One of the untold, little spoken about, costs of bearing the good news to faraway places is this emotional cost of separation from family; so, if on a scale of 1 to 10 that pain is normally at 3, it suddenly jumps to 7 or 8 during the Christmas season. There’s not much to say about it, other than you need to have experienced it to understand it. You bear it for the sake of the cross.
On the other side of the leger, it is a wonderful thing to know that a great army of Canadian ambassadors are out heralding the good news in a host of languages. Christ was born in humble surroundings not unlike most of the contexts of our international workers.
It is there where God has called them, they leave the luxury of their Canadian homes; the closeness and warmth of family; they enter as strangers into a foreign and often inhospitable setting to live as ambassadors of the Bethlehem king.
A Christmas Story
One of my greatest personal highs took place years ago in the city of Brazzaville in Central Africa where, on December 25th, I parked the 4Runner and stepped out of AC cool into Africa-humid 32C.
I walked carefully in my black Reeboks through a garbage dump, the air strong with the smell of feces and rotting food. Turning the corner, I walked down a sandy street to a makeshift courtyard where a simple hangar with palm branches kept the sun off 200 joyful souls who had gathered to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
It was Christmas! This group of Christian brothers and sisters who wouldn’t know that they were listed close to the bottom of the world’s poverty scale expressed their joyfulness in amazing celebration of the King who had come.
As honored guest, I got to preach the morning message – what a delight; what a privilege! Sensing the anointing of the Holy Spirit as I worked my way through a script in the local language, I could see from eye contact that they were following the story. Warm handshakes all around followed with expressions of “Joyeux noel, bonne fete”.
Returning quickly, in the heat of the afternoon sun, down the sandy track, stepping carefully through the garbage dump, I reached the 4Runner and soon felt AC cool. Cooler than cool, was the overwhelming feeling of “I was made for this!” and while it would have been nice to be a troop back in Canada, there was a stronger feeling of satisfaction and privilege to be a part of God’s mission to the world.
Because of that Christmas experience, I would shout: No, let’s not bring the troops home for Christmas – rather I honor and salute our missionary colleagues, Canadian troops, who stand strong and tall on the front lines of darkness broadcasting to all who will hear, the Light has come!
A Video Recommendation
This video is a Ugandan group singing “Joy to the World” – I absolutely love their style and acapella sound.
Ron Brown is a Senior Associate with Simply Mobilizing Canada and lives in Calgary, Alberta. He worked for 26 years in Africa with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
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