Many blessings to you this Christmas season!
I’ve been spending some time these past weeks in Luke, and wanted to share a few verses and thoughts that have stuck out to me:
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,…He has raised up a horn of salvation for us…to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 1:68-75
One of the results of our receiving salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ is that it makes us able to serve Him without fear. It’s part of the reason Jesus came to die for us.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8
The great works of the Lord are very often done in dirty places through rejected, unknown and unpopular individuals.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon,…and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ… Simeon took him (Jesus) in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.’ Luke 2:25-29
There was also a prophetess, Anna…she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night an day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38
Individuals truly seeking to follow and serve the Lord do not do so for personal gain, be it financial, social, or political. These individuals very often continue to do what they do in the name of Jesus simply because it is what they believe God wants them to do. They realize that, even on days when they want to quit, the option of leaving the ministry is not an option until God releases them from His calling on their life. It is no more a choice to these individuals than is breathing or eating.
In this spirit, this month Charlie and I would like to share a bit about some of the individuals who have given everything to following the call of God in their lives, and to serve those to whom He has called them. The work they do is most often unromantic, sacrificial, draining, and even heart-breaking. But they continue day after day because, like the people who were called to usher our Lord into this world, they see no other option to life but to follow the call of their God.
Hope and Jeff Holeman – House of Hope – Ralph, AL- It is the purpose of the House of Hope to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by being a House of Hope for individuals in transition from incarceration to productive members of society. They are a residential aftercare ministry focusing on the crucial four to twelve months immediately following release from prison or jail.
Established in August of 2000, House of Hope is an interdenominational, non-profit organization which provides food, shelter, clothing, guidance and love. They are a bridge for ex-offenders re-entering the “free world.” They believe that a Christian home environment helps the ex-offender adjust to life on the outside. They also believe it helps him alter his behavior and increases his potential in order to become a productive, law-abiding citizen. By providing a disciplined home environment, guidance, counseling, and Bible study, House of Hope works to change previous behaviors of ex-offenders.
After serving 12 years in prison, Jeff Holeman has made a successful transition from prison to the “free world.” He now knows his life direction is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in helping other men make this transition. His wife, Hope, also knew the Lord had a great plan for their life as a family to serve the outcasts of society.
To learn more and to become a supporter of House of Hope, please go the following website.
Ksusha and Alexander Nikiforov – Orphanage Ministry – Kaliningrad, Russia – Miki had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with Ksusha in prayer ministry in Kaliningrad early this month. In their time together, Ksusha shared with Miki a little about the work she and her husband, Alexander, do with orphans in Kaliningrad, including orphan grad support and an annual summer camp for a local orphanage.
Because Kaliningrad – Russia’s only warm-water seaport – is physically separated from the rest of Russia, Ksusha and Alexander are the only people in that city who are working to support orphans at all, and they struggle to find support locally or otherwise. Many teams are willing to travel to the larger cities in mainland Russia, but fewer consider going to the smaller city of Kaliningrad, located on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania.
If you would like to learn more about Ksusha and Alexander’s work, and to consider supporting them or visiting them in Kaliningrad, please let us know and we will be happy to connect you to them directly.
Michael and Lolla Agwanda – Life for Children Ministry – Kisumu, Kenya – The HIV/AIDS epidemic is spreading rapidly, spiraling out of control to infect 1 out of 10 Kenyans. This statistic leaves over 5,000 children as head of household with over 2.5 million parentless, and in most cases supporting their siblings and/or sickened relatives at a very young age. 1.8 million children are fending for themselves on the street. Extreme poverty conditions are especially evident here and the traditional family support system is overburdened.
Life for Children Ministry works to locate extended family members or approved guardians under whose care the orphans will live, and to provide:
food, clothing, healthcare and education
Christian teaching and counseling
Social Workers for case administration
training for life skills including HIV/AIDS awareness, personal hygiene, and self-perception
training for economic self-sufficiency, i.e. Micro Enterprise Lending
training for best agricultural practices to enhance food security
To learn more or to support Michael and Life for Children Ministry, please go to:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
Thank you all so much for your continued love and support to our family. In these days let us welcome, again, the Lord Jesus into our families and homes and lives! Praise and thanksgiving be full in our hearts for our God this Christmas, in Jesus’ name! Amen.
Miki, Charlie, Isabel and Jasper Chastain