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A Radical Idea for This Christmas

Spend the season on a mission
A Radical Idea This Christmas

A few years ago my children and I walked into a department store during the Christmas season. A lady working there stopped us and cheerfully asked if my children would like to write a Christmas list to Santa Claus. There was a statue of Santa by the entrance, with a big red mailbox for kids to drop their letters into. I politely told her I do not teach my children that their Christmas gifts come from Santa Claus.

She said, “Oh, is your family Jewish?”

I said, “No…we're Christian.”

Without realizing it, the past few years I have wallowed through the Christmas season waiting for it to end. Not because I don't want to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior; instead, the world’s view of Christmas had completely taken my joy out of this wonderful time of year. For one thing, although I'm not certain we really know when Jesus was born, we have designated this time of year for him, yet everywhere we turn very little is about Jesus. Even in the church; sure, we display the nativity scene and gather together…but shouldn't there be more to it? I find nothing wrong with Christmas fellowships, but after the Sunday school party, the board member party, the women's ministry party, the staff party, the Christmas choir concert, and the children's program, how many leaders in the church can honestly say they were a blessing and shared the gospel with someone desperate for Jesus during Christmas?

Mission Minded

I heard a pastor once say that many of us in the church are waiting for people to walk through the doors of the church instead of going out into the “field" to bring them in. I believe the idea of going out into the community scares most people because we don't know what to do. Why does it seem like it’s easier to fly all over the world as a missionary to plant a church or build a school rather than go next door to bless our neighbors?

I decided as a church leader I would get up and no longer wallow through this Christmas season. I asked God to help me be his hands and feet to bless others. I love to cook dinners for families in need, and I prayed and asked God to lead me to someone in need. No one resonated, but a few days later in church, after the sermon, the Lord said, “You're looking to cook for someone who has a physical need, but what about a spiritual need?” Instantly a name came to me. The Lord wanted me to cook dinner for a person in my life, “Jane,” who at times can be a nightmare­—but I obeyed. The day I was preparing Jane's meal, she called and once again upset me. For a moment I was bothered, but I was reminded that this isn't about me, it's about God and doing what he asked. I finished her dinner that day and will continue to make dinners for her until God says otherwise.

Although I enjoy cooking meals for families in need, I am not a great cook. I can handle a few basics and that’s it. In addition, we are a family of seven, one being an infant. We have a pretty tight budget, and cooking an extra meal for another family each week can be tough­—but not when we are obeying God! When our hearts are no longer centered on ourselves, but on Jesus, he makes a way.

What God has asked me to do might soften Jane's heart this Christmas, and she might be more willing to go to church. Jane knows I attend church. She knows I wake up early to pray, I'm a Christian writer, my husband and I are board members of our church, I am vice-president of my Christian homeschool group—but until now there was nothing in my actions that said I care about her soul being saved. There was nothing in my actions to her that said, “I care about you, Jane, because Jesus cares about you.”

Because He Loves You First

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” God loves us first. That's why he created us, but if we love him back with all our hearts, we should be able to give his love away. We might believe we love God with all our hearts, but it takes more than our minds to believe it; we have to demonstrate it in actions.

As leaders in the church we should be first in giving God's love away to others. If you feel hindered in some way or limited, then you have yet to discover the Holy Spirit's power in your ministry. Whatever God has asked you do, he will provide all the resources you need. You just need to be willing first. Along with providing dinners for Jane each week, I decided to make it a mission to bless others this Christmas—and hopefully beyond. I pray each day and ask God to lead me to someone in need.

A Scripture verse came to me while studying the Word one morning, Micah 7:8: “Though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” The Lord asked me to send it to a friend who tragically lost her son right before the holiday. I emailed just the verse. I did not offer advice or say anything else. I prayed she would hear the voice of her Father. Christmas can be a lonely time for many people, and as leaders we need hear God's voice to share hope with others.

A week later, I again asked God to lead me to someone in need. My children attend a weekly homeschool outing at the park, and this particular week had been unusually cold. I could not decide if we would attend but felt the Lord wanted me to go. I was running behind and got there 20 minutes late and found the only other family who showed up still waiting to see if someone else would be there. The kids were playing and the mother began to share how overwhelming her life had been lately, and how the holidays only escalated it. My advice to her was to increase her prayer time with the Lord. The more time we spend in deep prayer each day, the more our lives begin to change. Before we went home she thanked me for being there because, she said, the encouraging talk was just what she needed.

The Real Santa Claus

Bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra, from whom modern-day Santa Claus is derived, was said to be from a wealthy family who was very generous. Before his parents passed away they gave to those in need. As Saint Nicholas grew older he wanted to continue his parents’ legacy and gave to those in need as well. He and his family gave what they had to others because of their love for God.

Here's a radical idea for a Christmas ministry—love someone. We can fight for a parking space, stand in long lines, go into debt just to give that perfect gift, or as leaders in the church we can give Jesus, the greatest gift of all. Before the program lights go out this Christmas make sure those seated in the pews were personally invited by you. Go beyond the Christmas glamour and challenge your leaders to get together and pray­—not for their own needs; instead, pray and ask God to help you be a blessing to others. Walk outside the church doors and be led by the Holy Spirit to the “new girl” at a new school, the restaurant worker who was yelled at all day, the single mother picking up her children, the schoolteacher trying to make a difference. Don't worry about what to say; just be willing and the Holy Spirit will work through you.

When you bless others, you bless yourself and your ministry. When God leads you to people, make it about them. If God opens the door, invite them to church. If they turn it down, bless them again and trust that God will lead them to the right church and their lives will never be the same­—“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Saleama A. Ruvalcaba is wife to Omar and a mother of five. Her book Breakthrough: Your Doorway to a New Destiny was recently released. She is a home educator, Bible student, vice-president of her homeschool group, and member of the board of trustees, alongside her husband, at Cathedral of Praise in Cordova, TN. She writes regularly on her blog: salruv7.com.

December11, 2014 at 8:00 AM

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