It's amazing the way God works things out in His own way and time. We are able to look back on the sequence of events and see that His hand and His perfect timing were involved even while we could not see it. Christmas this past year was a wonderful example of this for my husband and me. God has, for the past few years, placed a burden on our hearts (my husband's and mine) to somehow teach our children to celebrate Christmas differently than everyone else does. The problem was that I thought this meant we just needed to spend less and that would teach our children that Jesus is the "reason for the season".
This year, God led a Sunday school teacher at our church to choose the "Advent Conspiracy" curriculum to be a short-term adult class as a filler for the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The following Sunday, we attended our first Advent Conspiracy Sunday school class entitled "Give More", and I came home in tears. It was about giving more valuable things to those who mean so much to us; giving things like time, homemade or handmade gifts, or contributions to a cause that would mean something to that special person, instead of spending to excess on things those special people don't really need. The emphasis of the segment was on getting away from the consumerism that permeates all of American society, especially at Christmas.
I realized this was the answer I had been looking for. I told my husband about the letter that we had recently received from Persecution Project Foundation, and asked him what he thought about the 100 Wells Campaign T-shirts and about the idea of doing Christmas differently this year. He asked me to give him the day to think about it. He watched video clips on Persecution Project's website, and at the end of the day, he told me he believed we should order a shirt for everyone in his family.
The shirts arrived in time for Christmas (thank you!), and we prepared a short presentation to explain to the family why we were doing something so different and "weird" this year for Christmas. We aren't sure anyone else will follow along and do Christmas differently with us next year, but we are taking the Advent Conspiracy message (which we believe is a very Biblical message) to heart and from now on we are going to "Spend less. Give more. Worship fully." with our celebration of Christmas.
God saved the best part for our family, however, and the story does not end with the shirts presented to my husband's family. Before we left our home for the family Christmas gathering on Christmas Day, my husband was explaining to our four-year old what we were doing with the shirts. He explained that the money for the shirts was going to help the children in Sudan to have water to not only quench their physical thirst, but also to open the door for them to be told about Jesus who can quench their spiritual thirst and give them living water. My husband played some of the Persecution Project video clips about the 100 Wells Campaign, and explained to our four-year old that providing water will let these kids know that Jesus loves them, came to die and rise again to save them from their sins and that anyone who loves Jesus with their whole heart can go to Heaven to be with Him forever.
At this moment, without any prompting, our little boy looked at my husband and said, "Daddy, I love Jesus with all my heart." It brought us both to our knees in tears of joy and thanksgiving. It's the first time he has verbalized his love for, and faith in, Jesus.
We originally thought that God was bringing this all together to use us to make an impact on our extended family, while we were doing something small to help bring water to Sudan. What we now see is that God brought this all together at the right time to allow the 100 Wells Campaign to have a profound impact on us. It brought understanding of the love of Jesus to our oldest child, and changed our Christmas morning into one of the most precious and worshipful experiences we have ever had. It was the best Christmas ever, and we can only imagine what God has in store for us as we "do Christmas differently" next year and from now on.
Thank you for being part of God's plan for us. We are so glad God has blessed us to be able to contribute a small portion to the bigger work you are doing in His name.
I have included a picture of my husband's family. My husband and I are seated on the floor in front, and the three boys are ours. Caleb, our oldest, loves Jesus with all his heart!
B.W., Zanesville, OH