Boys’ Christmas Party!
All the lights were off, all except the Christmas tree lights which twinkled in the darkness. The boys sat around in silent wonder as I reminded them that God became flesh, that He loves us enough to get into our world and even to die for us, that I love them, that pursuit of wealth and pleasure is nothing – the true joy is in doing what is good and right, in knowing God, and in loving others. I challenged them, telling them next year I was going to push them harder – that we are going to study the New Testament now and head knowledge is not enough, it has to reach the heart. They all agreed and want me to push them harder next year.
The best moments of this ministry can never be captured on film.
I invited three kids from this group to personal discipleship next year. “There will be lots of homework, reading the Bible, memorizing verses, and more. If you want to do it, memorize John 3:16.” Well, Jason, Trinidad, and Engel all memorized the verse and want to be discipled. Trinidad even pulled me aside before we left and said, “I wish I had more time. I want to talk to you about something.”
“What?” I asked.
“About God!” he emphasized, as if I ought to already know. “I have felt the Spirit moving in my life and I want to grow.”
Not something I expected from the “cool Soccer player” that Trinidad is. A special thanks to Cody Whittacker for challenging me to disciple these kids and helping me pick them out.
We can capture some things on film, though, and I prepared a video to show you what these Christmas parties are like. We hide rice, beans, oil, and apples (a Christmas novelty in Nicaragua) all over our house and they run off in search of it. Then we bust out the UNO cards, Jenga, Twister, a soccer ball, pizza, Christmas cookies, and generally have a good time.
Girls’ Christmas Party!
“Bethany, what’s the big difference between Buddhism and Hinduism?” Clariza asked in a confidential whisper. This was for big stakes. For the past few months the girls group has been studying world religions and during their Christmas party they were taking a quiz in teams. With the points from their quiz they could “buy” gifts from the prize box, and Clariza’s team was using their one “ask Bethany” lifeline.
“Do Buddhists believe in God?” I asked her.
“No,” she said.
“And how many gods do Hindus believe in?” I asked again.
Her eyes lighted up with comprehension. “Got it!” She darted back to her team.
Later around the Christmas tree we reviewed the quizzes and tallied the points before turning to the most important question: How is Christianity different from every other religion? The answer is that all other religions are man-made systems of trying to reach up to God by works. The heart of Christianity is found in Christmas, when God became flesh and came down to save his people through his great grace and mercy. Later that night we discussed what we could give as a Christmas gift to Jesus this year. The girls wrote down areas of their life that they wanted to grow in during the next year and some of them left their papers with me for accountability. One girl wants help in finding a home church. Another girl is ready to pursue baptism in the coming year. Her younger sister wrote that she wants to pray with me to accept Christ.
When I think of where these precious girls were when we started, I glorify God for the good work that he is doing in their hearts and lives. It’s not all good news: one of the girls is currently not walking with the Lord and has stopped coming to the group for now. However on the whole, I can see that God is moving in hearts and lives. Please pray that the girls would continue to grow and that the girl who has wandered will be brought back soon.
Thank you again for all your support and prayers. This would not be possible without them!
-Scott and Bethany McEwan