Monday, December 21, 2009

What Christmas Is All About

Photo credit: aconnel73170

Vol. 1, Issue 3

Holiday Thoughts

The city is bedecked with Christmas lights. After spending so many years in Senegal where seasonal reminders are low-key and scattered haphazardly, the sheer volume of electricity coursing through countless colored bulbs, animated reindeer, super-sized snow globes, and musically-synchronized displays is still overwhelming to me.

A few blocks away from us here in the suburb of Yukon blinks the western metro's biggest Christmas attraction: the electrified city parks. In the evenings the cars line up outside the entrances for the chance to slowly snake through the incredible light show that the city puts on to celebrate the season. But as beautiful as the thousands upon thousands of lights are, Christmas is not about the lights. Christmas is about the Light.

Our tree this year seems to be supported by the mountain of packages under it. One of the perks of having a big family is that everyone gets plenty of presents. The downside, of course, is that buying presents for every member of the family can thin out the wallet pretty quickly. Still, we look forward to the annual madness of shredded wrapping paper and colorful clutter of opened boxes if only to see the expressions on a loved one's face when they open up one of our carefully selected gifts. But as exciting as it is to give and receive, Christmas is not about all the gifts. Christmas is about the Gift.

We are blessed this year to have all of our children with us for the holidays. Katie and Brad moved to Oklahoma City this summer and so are now local. After a trip back to Arizona last month to spend some time with family there, they ended up being with us for Thanksgiving and will also spend much of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Yukon. We love our kids and love the fact that they can all be with us this year. But as wonderful as the love for family is, that's not truly what Christmas is about either. Christmas is about God's love for us.

For the Light of the world was given to us in the form of a baby, the gift of God's only son, Jesus Christ, as an expression of the Father's unparalleled love for all of mankind.

Merry Christmas

A Korean Christmas Present

I received an early Christmas present last week of a new ministry opportunity. Beginning January 4th, I will start teaching a group of Korean college students twice a week. I will be attempting to perfect their use of English while incorporating biblical truths in the lessons and in our follow-up communications outside of class. The students consist of a combination of Christians and non-Christians, which is the perfect blend for this type of ministry. When everything works, the Christians grow in the Lord and help lead the non-Christians to Christ through the invaluable partnership they bring as cultural insiders. We used this method successfully in Japan, and so we know firsthand that it works. Please pray this will be a fruitful ministry.

Other Prayer Requests

Continue to pray for the Friday night Bible study here in Yukon. Chandra is currently doing an excellent survey of the Bible that is bringing in several families, including a new one from the island of Tobago. I am hoping to do more one-on-one work with the international participants.

Please pray for one of my ministry partners, Kimily Waldron, and me as we work on forming some culture and ESL classes as an outreach to Chinese and other internationals at UCO.

Continue to pray for my progress in Chinese. I passed my first course with an A and begin level two next month. Xie xie nimen ("thank you" in the plural form).

Pray for Joyce as the new school term approaches and the extra work that will be coming her way as she manages the demands of two households while I'm in Edmond much of the week.

Finally, continue to pray for our finances and for the Lord to provide more support for our ministry.

Yours By His Grace,

John for the Rest of the Ropers

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