The season of Advent is such a special time of the year as it prepares and directs our hearts towards the joy and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. If we allow it to, apart from the usual hustle and bustle of shopping, party planning, and meal preparations, it refocuses our gaze towards hope as we remember God’s plan of redemption for us.
For our indigenous partners in Africa, the church plays a central role in the celebration of Advent.
Without many of the traditions, we have here in America, gathering together as a community is their primary focus. Usually, there are both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church services which entail singing, dancing, prayer, and preaching as the birth of Christ is celebrated. Christmas Eve services are sometimes held past midnight as they choose to celebrate the beginning hours of Christmas Day together as a community.
Many families will spend months in advance preparing the new outfits they will wear for church. Their services are followed by large feasts as friends and family gather around tables and share meals together.
Despite the challenges they may be facing, they find value in gathering with their local community to celebrate together. They intentionally set aside time to worship God during a season that can often be filled with distractions and worldly desires. They focus their attention on the true hope of Jesus’ birth and what it means for them personally, and together as the body of Christ.
What a beautiful reminder of God’s intention when he designed community.
It’s this unity within the church, in both celebratory seasons filled with hope as well as when walking with others through the trials of everyday life, that drives our local partners to continue in this work.
This month, we’ve been talking about church planting and what this looks like in and through the lives of our partners within their own contexts around the world. It’s our mission to partner with the Global Church as we reach unreached people groups through the expression of the local church. Our indigenous partners in Africa are reminding us of the importance of this work and how special it is to live closely with one another in community, just as God intended.
We are honored to partner with them as they are meeting the needs of their communities and loving their neighbors as they share the hope of the gospel.
During this season of Advent, we are reminded of how Jesus comes near to us because of his love for us. May we be empowered to love our communities in the same way, by drawing near to others and meeting them exactly where they are at. This is how communities will look more like the Kingdom of God.
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3 Ways to Honor God on Your Next Mission Trip
We're sharing three things you should consider before you organize or participate in an international mission trip, seek to do work in the multicultural neighborhood in your own city, or embark on any cross-cultural partnership.