So there we were Christmas Day, walking up at the Seasons Hotel in Yangon — 10,000 miles from home. We got a “Merry Christmas” greeting from two elderly ladies in the breakfast room — the only non-Burmese we would see on Christmas Day — Australians visiting another orphanage. By the way if you google the hotel — don’t trust the description or the pictures, false advertising at it’s best!
Driving to Agape Orphanage, it hit me that Calvary’s last Christmas Eve service was just beginning. I love Christmas Eve at Calvary, it is always one of the highpoints of my Christmas season. It’s one of the best parts of being home for Christmas!
But God had other plans for us this Christmas – Myanmar plans.
We drove through the gate at Agape and all the children were lined up to greet us, yelling like we were some kind of celebrities — or long lost family members returning after a long absence.
In Myanmar, while it is not against the law to have a church, it is against the law to proselytize. But at Christmas, a bit more freedom is given. So the orphanages use Christmas as a time to reach out to the neighboring villages. In December the orphanages we support hosted Christmas celebrations for close to 10,000 people – at each one the Good News was shared.
I had the privilege of sharing at the Christmas Day gathering at Agape orphanage – over 1200 Buddhist villagers and over 300 children. I know of two Buddhists and one Muslim who became followers of Jesus that day. Two days later we baptized those three and 28 others.
Later that day, we gave out clothes that had been purchased by Calvary dollars and beanie babies that had been collected by Lynn and my mom, and candy that had been purchased by my kids. You should’ve seen the faces of the children, very cool!
I love being home for Christmas, and this Christmas we were 10,000 miles away from home. But if you think about it, being away from home is what Christmas is all about. Jesus left home and traveled far more than 10,000 miles to celebrate Christmas with us. Mary and Joseph left their home and gave birth in a barn. The shepherds didn’t really have much of a home to leave and the Magi, by this time, were far from home in their search for Jesus.
I love being home for Christmas…but this year I gained a whole new appreciation for Christmas, sometimes you have to leave home to figure out Christmas.
Hope your Christmas was God-Awe-Full. Ours was!