Use Christmas to Worship Jesus

Use Christmas to Worship Jesus!

Have you ever had one of those family holiday get-togethers, especially one with lots of extended family, that leaves you feeling “icky” inside because it really didn’t glorify God at all? You panicked inside as your kids tore into gift after gift with greedy madness in their eyes, or you felt disgusted as the family gorges on enough food to feed a football team. Yet not a word was spoken about God or Jesus whom you thought you were there to celebrate!

Christmas is a special time to worship Jesus, and one of our best opportunities to speak about him to all our friends and family members.

So this Christmas, turn the time to Christ—read the Scriptures, sing some songs, brag on Jesus, worship him in prayer. Here are some ideas:

  • When the prayer before the mealtime comes around, ask if you can read Luke 2, Isaiah 9, or other passages. And then pray a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, thankful prayer.
  • After the meal, ask “can we sing a couple Christmas songs?” You could print the lyrics or just have everyone search for the song on their phone. After each song, ask “What do you think such-and-such line means?” Share what it means personally for you—salvation that comes through this Jesus.
  • Before opening presents, pass out several short Scriptures that different family members could read. These could include Gospel truths of how man has fallen into sin, is lost in darkness, and God sent his Son to save us.
  • After presents are opened on Christmas morning (if you do that), or Christmas Eve at supper or around the living room, tell everyone you’d like to do something special and read the Christmas story together:

Luke 1:1-24

Sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

Luke 1:26-55

Sing “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Luke 1:56-80

Sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Luke 2:1-5

Sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Luke 2:6-14

Sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Luke 2:15-20

Sing “Joy to the World”

[You can shorten a program like this by starting at Luke 2:1, or by singing just 1-2 verses of each song.]

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Building a School

The EKSM buildings are finished. After way too long of dealing with a problematic contractor, the Lord has moved him on and the buildings are finished! Graduation was a double celebration because of that. It was the culmination of several years work and contributions.

(the first 2 are videos of the campus)


This video starts at the kitchen. The generator and storehouse are behind this (you can see at the beginning). Then the dining hall (see below also), admin building, and classroom.IMG_5262

Dining hall. IMG_5263

Admin building. IMG_5264

Dining hall (left) and restrooms (right). These may still seem rustic to our eyes, but I guarantee you, these are a vast and more permanent improvement from what we had!



At the celebration dinner with the head of the Kale Heywet Church.


Ato Fekadu, of SIM, was the one was able to bring about all the reconciliations and negotiations to remove the previous contractor in peace (a miracle from God!). Through his facilitation, the remaining work was all finished in just 2 months!


The new gates.


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On the Road in Ethiopia–July 2017

These were all interesting to me. But I know how pictures go, and “interesting” is relative, so I’ll put an encouraging one up (and more significant) early in the batch before you leave this page. 🙂

One of our students who is a close friend is a M* background believer. He and his wife (right) have a great passion to share the Gospel with others. At the post-graduation feast at his hometown (on the trip back to Addis Ababa) we met three new believers in his living room. They had all accepted Christ through the witness of his wife (maybe she should have been at our school??!) in the last five months! One woman was Orthodox background and two from M* background. The latter two’s husbands still do not know. Please pray for their families to turn to the Lord as well, and for our student and his wife to know how to wisely approach the situation with their families and community.



Eating the special food. I don’t remember the name. It’s barley, roasted then ground fine, then mixed with a bit of butter and spices. It can suck the moisture out of your mouth in half a second. You can’t swallow for a couple minutes, hence the parents not only giving our student and his wife a bite, but giving them the chaser–orange Fanta.


Here’s his wife serving me.


It’s an honor to cut the traditional bread, a bit like sourdough, but much denser. IMG_5322

This shot is just outside our student’s house. He has a small shop by the side of this market, an excellent place for ministry to the community.


The road back to Addis has all but disappeared. Some sections have. Gone are the lines. Gone is much asphalt. But it’s chock full of vehicles. And dust.


Fields are sown and furrowed, awaiting the summer rains (which are just beginning). Barley and teff will begin growing soon.


The School of Missions had their first Chinese students this year! That in itself is an amazing story of God’s work. The Chinese church desires to send missionaries all over the world, and Ethiopia is becoming a launching pad for Africa.


Old friends! Our houseworker, Amaru.


Bejiga and Amaru (married, our houseworker and her husband) and Megersa (in red), our first gardener and guard–all dear members of our family.


Me seated on the “throne” of a “palace”. This gorgeous house of a friend of ours, just 40 minutes outside Addis, rents for only 1/3 of what it would if it were inside the city.


Megersa was the boys’ best friend our first year in Addis. While Rebecca and I were in language school, Emmett and Hudson would spend their time digging and planting and weeding with him.


This roundabout, known as “Mexico Roundabout” had no tram, no underpass when we arrived four years ago. Amazing to see the development.


When I traveled by myself to teach at Durame, I would sit in this family’s house nearly every night drinking “buna” while telling them “No I really can’t eat any more food.” We had a lot of great discussions about life, ministry, theology, and Scripture.


Kids of our students.


Our compound . . . we’re going to miss it.

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The Big Day (Graduation videos)

Here’s a couple fun videos of what our Ethiopian graduation looks like:

A sunny day is always helpful. All the lining up and parading around happens there. Students are mostly in their new shiny suits and the ladies in dresses with freshly-done-up hair. Graduation is big here. It reminds me of high school prom in the school decorations, hair-dos, dressing up . . . If the students have families, the kids are all present to see their parents’ big day. Since sunup, the guards and other school workers have been cooking a goat and chopping vegetables for the big meal afterward. The guards bought the goat at the market and slaughtered it the night before.


Very suprising (to me anyway) we started almost on time, and kept pretty close to the program. After breakfast of bread, eggs, and tea, we all milled around outside the dining hall, lining up the students, waiting for 9:00 to arrive. With much singing and the slowest parade march, we made our way like the Israelites at Jericho to the church. The graduation program was scheduled for 3 and 1/2 hours, and the building celebration another 1 hour. Then lunch.

At meetings like these the “greetings” at the introduction of every person go quite long and get quite repetitive. But that’s how Ethiopian greetings go in general, so it’s not too surprising. “Dear graduates, diploma students, degree students, families, church members, Dr. Kursie head of Kale Heywet Church general secretary . . .” And so goes the beginning of each of the several segments of the program.

After the program (including a VERY good sermon by the Kale Heywet Church general secretary! If only I’d understood more of it!) we made our way to the new buildings for a ribbon cutting. After several years, they are finally completed. The humid sky and onlooking clouds finally decided to send a brief shower–for which a few people silently thanked the Lord–and the ceremony was held to 15 minutes.


So we quickly moved on to a scrumptious lunch of injera bread with meat sauces and vegetable dishes. Students quickly cleared out as soon as this was over because they had to get their families to town in order to catch buses to their own towns.


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News of the School of Missions–Summer 2017

One story: One of our closest friends from the School of Missions, Ashenafi and Tigiste, were able with other students to get a mission station up and going 180 km from where they were stationed. As a small work of God began to spring up, they called two of the diploma students out of northwest Ethiopia to get to work with these new believers. Now there are 15 brand new believers from M* background, the first church of their area. These two diploma students will be returning to that area to disciple the new believers for the next two years, and continue the work of evangelism in the area.

This was just one of seven new churches our students started in their 9 months of field training! Praise God.

According to their counts, some 5,565 people heard the Gospel . . . 323 believed in Christ . . . 177 repented (meaning they were from a Christian background, returned to following Christ) . . . 224 of all these are continuing in home discipleship groups or new churches. Praise the Lord!

So on July 15 we graduated 42 students. Some of these students will return to the stations where work has begun. Some will return to their home churches to be sent to a different area.

The next round of students have begun some English prep courses and then begin classes at the end of September.

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The Great Outdoors

This post is just because we are so happy to be able to hike and play outside, something we’ve missed terribly outside the US!

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Fall Happenings



We routed our itinerary through Boston so we could see the grandparents . . . and the beach!


Somehow kids don’t feel the chill of the Northwest’s ocean waters!


Or maybe their activeness keeps them warm.


Burying Joel


We’ve been promising the kids for a few years now that we could get a dog. Only it turned out that it was going to be a bad idea in our locations in Ethiopia. So now, here she is–Henrietta.


Dr. Seuss


Hiking near Saint Joseph


And I (Jeremy) visited my homeland–western KS. A sweet familiar face!


Joel sometimes carries stuff on his head as in Ethiopia (notice the Ugandan painting in the background too!).


Oh Kansas!


“Where the buffalo roam . . .”


The boys and I have taken up jiu jitsu for our sport / exercise this year.


A rare shot with both boys in the frame and on top of their classmates!


At the Wichita DQ (owned by a family member–doubly sweet)


Countryside Bible Church of Meade, KS has been faithfully supporting missionaries since it was built by a bunch of homesteaders over 100 years ago. We were privileged to participate in and speak at their Harvest Missions Conference in October.


We always get to see dear friends who’ve meant a lot to us. Here’s Joel with my old youth group leader (and later boss for a summer on harvest crew).


Exploring the prairies.


While the women had a tea, the men had a trap shoot and grilled out.


The boys get a chance to shoot .22s and BB guns when we go out here.


And we get to see legit KS sunsets every morning.


My childhood home.


The zoo


This snake was a bit freaky. He was bobbing and weaving and even striking at fingers held near the glass.


And this rascal spooked us several times in the walk through rain forest. He moved and darted around a bit like “Doc” on the old Back to the Future movies.


Costume day. Meet Julius Caesar.


Raking leaves at Grandpa’s with the cousins.


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November in CO


Our first stop in CO was a debriefing conference in CO Springs


Missionary life brings a LOT of unique losses and gains, struggles and joys. We spent a week with other missionaries and counselors debriefing this last term. It was a VERY helpful week for us and our family.


We made a few new friends at the debriefing. Vivian fell right in with another midwest farming family who had several girls… “Can we go to Zambia?”


Then we were able to connect with old friends and supporters over the weekend.


And finally on to the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. It was windy, but warm enough in the afternoons to play outside and hike.


Rocky Mountain National Park


Estes Park candy shop


YMCA of the Rockies


First snow for this guy!!! Our last day we finally got several inches of snow to play in.


And home again.

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Final Ministry in Ethiopia (Summer 2016)


I participated in an ESL training put on for the Bible colleges of the EKHC denomination.


Some of the Ethiopians we work with. The left and middle men are in the missions office in Addis Ababa with the EKHC, coordinating the sending of the EKHC missionaries internationally. The man on the right is a graduate of our school serving in Kenya.


The “Mekihima” 25th Anniversary. I spoke briefly at this event for SIM. These Bible study fellowships have spread all over the EKHC; they are part of the normal church life of thousands of churches. May the Lord increase it!


The main workers of the Mekihima Bible studies.


The second man from the left, Worku, works with SIM to help send Ethiopian missionaries outside Ethiopia. The man on the right, Samuel, (name changed) works in a country near India where they have been serving for 7 years now. His little rural church is a VERY missions-minded church. There are currently three of their church members at our mission school; these three have already been very faithful and fruitful on the mission field already!


Rebecca and one of our graduate’s family. We visited their ministry site and preached at their new church plant.


The new and growing church.


Lunch afterwards!

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Final Family Times in Ethiopia (Summer 2016)


You’ll notice we have on warmer clothes. The summer rainy season can be chilly.


The ibises are landing!



Friends on the compound


Collision with little brother. It probably hairline cracked something. Our neighbor docs told us there’s little to do for it though.


Final meal at a favorite restaurant for injera and tibs (Ethiopian bread and fajita like meat)


Afternoon playtime


Rainy day play time


Almost every evening needed a fire to take the edge off the chill in the house


Some aren’t too bothered by the rain.


Flying home!!!


Sleep . . .


Killing time

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