We all have our favourite holiday traditions, things that subtly get us ready for that special time of the year. Music, decorating the house, choosing the perfect outfit for the office party, advent calendars, the church nativity, wrapping presents, switching on the coloured lights, shopping for the big dinner–all building up to the days at the end of December that we spend with family and friends.
Before you begin this year’s run-up to Christmas, spare a thought for people you know who now live abroad and may find themselves feeling particularly lonely and strange in a country where Christmas is observed very differently, or not at all. No singing along with familiar songs, no parties, no special Christmas treats, none of the familiar sights, sounds and tastes of that special time of year. And no family and long-time friends to share it with.
While it’s a situation missionaries know just comes with the territory, there are moments that we feel the loss, the distance, the fact that we are strangers in a strange land. It doesn’t diminish the real Christmas that we celebrate–the universe-altering birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ–but we miss the shared traditions that help us feel connected with the people all around us.
So may I encourage you to take a few minutes now to think about those people you know, pray for them, write them an email or even better, post them a real Christmas card! Send them a little gift if you can, something that connects them with Christmas ‘back home’. You remember. You care. You become a very welcome part of their new and evolving way of celebrating the holidays.
- Pray that missionaries who do make it home for a visit, but feel like it’s not home anymore. They may also feel like they’re letting down the people in the land where they were sent.
- Pray for missionaries’ families that grow up without their parents, grandparents, children.
- Pray for missionaries to feel at home with the Christians where they live.
- Pray that missionaries have enough to meet their year-end responsibilities and pay their taxes.