Africa (MNN) — The Christmas season is traditionally viewed as a time of giving. The building excitement is almost as palpable as the snow outside. For Christians, one gift that is exceptionally exciting is the gift of the Gospel.
That is the gift that Every Child Ministries gives every year. Right now, they’re preparing for their annual Christmas parties in Africa. These parties take place in Congo and other countries of central Africa. Children from their street ministries, sponsorship program, children’s home, and school are invited to a time of celebration. Overall, about 700 children are involved.
Lorella Rouster of ECM explains what is so special about these parties: “Christmas parties are one the of main ways that we bring the Gospel to needy kids every year. No one wants to refuse a party, and most of our parties feature a meal that is a whole lot better than the average fare that the kids get.” It is the meal that usually draws the kids in more so than the presents.
Attendance at these parties is always high. “We have built a reputation of throwing something that the community really enjoys and appreciates,” Rouster explains. Often times, Christmas parties can miss the whole point of Christmas. But not these. “The Gospel is always taught at the party, and the chance is given to the child to receive Jesus as their Savior if they’re ready to do so.”
While ECM shares the Gospel weekly at their Bible teachings, Christmas, they emphasize it even more during the holidays. Rouster says, “There’s a kind of heightened spiritual awareness at Christmas time in Africa just like here in the U.S. so that sometimes people are more receptive to the Gospel message.”
It is common in America and other countries to dress up for Christmas parties. But not all the children have this opportunity, Rouster says. “We don’t really pay any attention to whether they dress up or not; the people do like to dress up in the best that they have. That varies: some of them are able to dress nicely, and some of them aren’t. We just try to make everybody feel welcome because it’s not really about dressing up: it’s just about getting together and having fun and honoring the birth of the Lord.”
Aside from the Christmas parties, the children will also receive food packages from their sponsorship program. This gives an extra openness for ECM to share spiritual nourishment alongside the nourishment from food.
Also, ECM has special Christmas lessons during this time at their weekly Bible lessons. During the year, these lessons reach 225,000 children in Congo and other central African countries. ECM trains teachers for these weekly lessons.
What’s interesting is that around Christmas, more children attend Sunday school than other times. As always, the teachers make sure that there is a very clear Gospel message. Since this opportunity to spread the Gospel is so important, ECM spends most of the year planning for it. This is the time of year when those plans are put into action. Their ability to put on these parties depends on the funds they raise from supporters like you.
Rouster asks that you pray for a very clear Gospel message this season, and for a large harvest of new believers. Pray also that there would be no negative interference, and that the children would feel especially loved by their Father.
If you would like to contribute to the success of these Christmas parties and bring some joy to less-fortunate children who need to know Jesus, click here. Also, check out the ECM Christmas catalog for more specific gifts.