A New Year Reflection

At the New Year I celebrate with family and friends, yet I also take time to reflect on not just the events of the past year but also upon who I have been over those 12 months.

With my mum moving in with us over the summer, the second half of the year has not been without its challenges. I became very aware how selfish I was, only by first observing how selfish everyone else was.

As Jean Vanier demonstrates from his work in L’Arche, community first reveals how awful every other community member is when viewed at close quarters; only later in the journey will I work out that actually I am the more significant problem to establishing effective community. Maybe a lesson here for churches at the start of this year?

True holiness is revealed when I simply choose to acknowledge my own fracture and determine to get up and try again. It is the grace of God that has brought me this far. It is God who has accepted me, even before I offered to attempt to clean up my act in response to his love. God loves me, and you, immeasurably; that means we cannot measure it, ever.

Over Christmas I was surrounded by great-nephews and nieces. All small and intent on walking and playing, they fell down numerous times, sometimes shed a few tears, yet with a word of comfort they struggled back onto their feet to play. They fell but always got back up.

So wherever last year took us, however harshly we judge our performance, never give up. All that’s behind us. Hopefully we know more of ourselves, yet we need to carry into this New Year a fresh appreciation that we are loved beyond limits. No matter what our history, we’re invited to struggle to our feet once again and step, prodigal-like, into our Father’s arms.

(Dr Micha Jazz)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

Peace on earth, Goodwill to all men and women.

For God so loved the world that He have us His only begotten son.

Let us all remember that today this Christmas is our Saviour’s birthday. And as we rejoice with all our families and friends within our Christmas celebrations let us never forget the reason why we have cause to celebrate.

May our Father God bless you mightily in everything you do and in everything you say.

God Bless each and every one of you

Geoffrey

 

A Season of Anxieties?

For many of us, Christmas can be an anxious time. We  often get caught up in all the busyness of preparing for Christmas Day and lose sight of its true significance.

May I suggest that you spend a few moments now reflecting on what Christmas means to you?

What will you be celebrating?

What will you want to remember over the coming few days?

Offer up in prayer everything that might cause anxiety or distract you from celebrating the birth of Jesus.

With many joy-filled blessings

Geoffrey

Especially for…..who?

As Christmas approaches, the need to buy something, anything for family members and/or friends grows more and more urgent.

But when you are loitering in the 3 for 2 aisle, or browsing the ‘amusing but will never be be used’ gimmicks, stop for a moment and consider – what do our loved ones really want and need from us most?

Could, perhaps, you pledge some quality time together with your wife, husband or partner? Or offer an evening’s babysitting? Or make something creative and personal?

Challenge yourself to be a clever and imaginative giver this Christmas!

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The First Nativity Play

Nativity plays are a much loved feature of Christmas.

As children many of us take part in them. As adult we enjoy watching children performing in them. But back in the early thirteenth century they didn’t exist.  It is widely believed that the tradition began with St Francis of Assisi in 1223.

Following a visit to Bethlehem, St Francis was inspired to stage the first nativity play in a cave in Greccio, Italy.

Using humans and animals to play the key roles, he aimed to bring the Christmas story to life in a powerful new way.

Word quickly spread and and local people arrived with torches and candles to join him in celebrating Christ’s birth.

His idea proved popular and soon communities across Italy and beyond were creating similar events.

With many Christ-filled blessings

Geoffrey

‘The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished’ – Gospel for Asia

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Families all over South Asia didn’t receive perfume or ties last Christmas. Instead, they received gifts that changed their lives.

Nothing Temporary Here
Pranjal had no way of providing medical treatment for his ailing wife, Sukthi. A witch doctor told them she should have surgery to fix her decaying rib, but the cost of the operation was more than Pranjal could afford.

As a day labourer, Pranjal barely made enough to feed his family. In desperation, he went to the local Gospel for Asia-supported church and asked for financial help. But Pranjal received something even better than money. Instead of the church giving him money that could only temporarily fix what would be a prolonged problem, they gave him a cycle rickshaw so he could earn an income, provide for his family and get the medical treatments his wife needed.

'The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished'

Pranjal was given a new cycle rickshaw. Now he can earn enough money to provide for his wife and four children.

The local GFA-supported pastor also began visiting the family and prayed for Sukthi’s healing.

A few months after receiving the gift, Pranjal took his wife to the hospital for a check up. Miraculously, the doctors told them regular medicine could help cure Sukthi’s sickness and no surgery was needed.

Pranjal and his wife knew it was the Lord Jesus working in their lives.

“If I had received financial help then that money would have been gone within a few days,” Pranjal said. “But the source you have given to us is never finished. It still helps us exist. Now I am earning a good amount through the cycle rickshaw by carrying passengers. I am taking my wife also for treatment in my vehicle, and I’m able to buy medicines for my wife. I am happy with the help provided to me by the church.”

New Carpenter in Town
Surviving was tough for Mahir and his family. He was scarcely able to provide for his family’s needs because he wasn’t able to find a job. However, GFA-supported pastors in the area took notice of his great need.

They invited Mahir and his family to attend their Christmas gift distribution program, and to Mahir’s surprise, he was gifted with carpentry tools.

Even though Mahir had no experience or knowledge in carpentry work, he began doing small repair jobs in his village. Slowly, his carpentry skills developed to the point where he was able to build furniture and even houses. Now, through this gift, Mahir is able to earn 1,500-2,000 rupees ($30-$40 US) a month, which is enough for him to take care of his family.

“It is good to have such programs in our region for needy and poor people that will uplift their living standards,” Mahir shared. “May God bless those who provided me with these carpentry tools.”

'The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished'

Pranjal was given a new cycle rickshaw. Now he can earn enough money to provide for his wife and four children.

Satisfying Their Thirst
Shikar and his family were constantly getting sick from the water sources in their village.

“There was hardly a week or month in which we did not have to visit a doctor and spend our hard-earned income on medicine,” Shikar explained. “My family and I were often exposed to waterborne diseases because we had no choice but to use dirty and contaminated water from open wells for cooking and drinking.”

Shikar and his family suffered with stomach problems, jaundice, typhoid and diarrhea. And because necessity compelled them to use ponds, rivers and contaminated well water for bathing, they also suffered from skin infections.

The doctors told them they needed to use a water filter, but Shikar couldn’t afford to buy one. Fortunately, GFA-supported pastors provided for this need by giving Shikar a BioSand water filter from the Gospel for Asia Christmas Gift Catalogue. Now he, his family and even other people in his village don’t have to worry about getting sick.

'The Source You Have Given to Us Is Never Finished'

This BioSand water filter helped keep Shikar and other villagers safe from waterborne diseases.

“Since the time the water filter was installed, no one has suffered from any waterborne diseases, and we are spared from unnecessary medical expenses,” Shikar shared. “Through these BioSand water filters, not only our physical thirst has been quenched, but also our inner thirst for the love of the Lord and for one another was met very strongly.”

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

A Brother Like That

Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it.

“Is this your car, Mister?” he asked.

Paul nodded. “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.” The boy was astounded. “You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn’t cost you nothing? Boy, I wish…” He hesitated.

Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like   that.

But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels. “I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that.”

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, “Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?”

“Oh yes, I’d love that.”

After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, “Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?”

Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbours that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again.

“Will you stop where those two steps are?” the boy asked. He ran up the steps.

Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother.

He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car. “There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn’t cost him a cent.

And some day I’m gonna give you one just like it…then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I’ve been trying to tell you about.”

Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he had said: “It is more blessed to give…”

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey