Christmas Eve’s Celebration and Feeding

I have to tell you that the presents and lights and movies have been lots of fun. Since I was little I have always been about Christmas – celebrating weeks and weeks before Christmas Day. I love seeing the excitement in the eyes of little children. I love creating an environment here in Haiti where children can forget about where they are – if even for just a few hours. I can easily get wrapped up into those things as much as the next person. But my heart really was touched on Christmas Eve as hundreds of children gathered upstairs to hear about Jesus. We knew that we were going to serve a big meal for the kids. Because of that – we could only let in 300-400 children so that everyone would have food. The children were lined up outside the gate nearly two hours early.

I was standing upstairs where the groups eat – looking over the courtyard. When the gates swung open I saw children RUNNING and SCREAMING in excitement. There was a moment when I saw those gates open that I pictured the gates of Heaven and the children running to enter in. Watching them run with such innocent joy and excitement I felt like I got a glimpse of what God sees every day as children enter His Kingdom. Tears immediately filled my eyes and my heart was just overcome with emotion.

When the children sat upstairs Pierre and I began to talk to them about Jesus. When I asked if everyone knew why we celebrated Christmas a few people answered – “Yes – Everyone knows”. So I then asked for them to raise their hand if they knew about Christmas. In the crowd of hundreds maybe 20 kids raised their hands. Yes – they’ve heard of the name of Jesus. How could you live in St. Louis du Nord and not have at least heard His name? But did they really know about His birth? Did they really know what this Jesus guy is about? NO – they didn’t.

I was just planning to show the movie the Nativity and let them learn about Jesus that way but what if they fell asleep during the show? What if they didn’t understand it because it was in French? What if they left tonight and never knew why we were celebrating this special holiday? No – I couldn’t let that happen. So I told them all about Jesus. I told them about His birth and how He came to save little children just like them. I told them this Jesus just isn’t for the Americans or short-term missionaries who come to Haiti but He came for everyone – including all of Haiti.

After sharing the Gospel, we prayed. Then we got ready to start the movie. We decided that half-way through we would stop the movie and serve the food. This way we could also answer any questions they had about what they were seeing on the screen. Before I sat down a little kid  – maybe 10 years old came to me. He said – -” You said that Jesus came for children like us and that He doesn’t like it when we are hungry and we suffer. If that is true – then why doesn’t He stop it. If He can do anything why do I go to bed hungry every night?”

My eyes again filled with tears. How do you answer that? How do we not sometimes wonder that ourselves? Why are some blessed and others aren’t? And those of us who maybe don’t understand but accept it – how do you explain that to a little 10 year old?

My children were getting ready to have a big Christmas that night. All the presents were wrapped and my family was ready to start celebrating this special day. I was showing movies every night, giving snacks, and doing all those “good deeds”. That was enough right? I shouldn’t feel guilty for being so blessed when I was trying to help so many others right? Well that lie got me through 9 nights of movies – but didn’t do much for my soul on the 24th as I had to answer to this little 10 year old, who probably hadn’t had a bath in days, who’s black shirt was full of holes, he had no shoes, and his shorts were 2 sizes too big.

Before I could even come up with an answer -the movie started. The boy excitedly left me and sat down to watch the film. I had been “saved”. I felt relieved that I didn’t have to answer that question. However – since that night – all I can think about is the answer. I know that what doesn’t make sense in this lifetime will make perfect sense in the next – but it’s so hard to really believe that when the reality of the world is all around you. It’s so hard to believe that when the reality is lined outside my door every single morning – when the knocks on my door at night mean serious problems for our employees, women in the birthing center, or children in our programs –  and when death, disaster, and disappointment wait outside the gates every day.

I don’t always understand the chapters in this book – but again – I remember that I’m only playing a role in His story. The honest answer is – these are His people. He holds the pen and with a simple mark on the page can change the entire world. Just because the pages don’t make sense – doesn’t mean that there are any errors in His writings. He continues to show me that this isn’t about me but it’s about Him. He reminds me of that so much – sometimes more than I’d like.

All I know is that on Jesus’ Birthday – hundreds of children got to learn about Him and hundreds of children went to sleep with a full belly. And until He changes the flow on the pages – we all need to remember our role and do what we can to be the face of Jesus to everyone He places on our path.

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