Consider the story of the shepherds, told from a firsthand perspective:
I’m a humble Judean shepherd, like my father was before me.
He was a good shepherd who taught me well how to care for our sheep.
And that night, of all nights, I wish that he could have been with me again—to hear what we heard.
There in the field, with the glory of the Lord shining around us, the angel told us of the arrival of Christ, our Savior.
“Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people!”
We ran to town, searching, asking where he might be, telling what the angel had said.
Would you have believed us? That Messiah was lying in a feed trough around the corner?
It was a ridiculous, glorious story!
We looked like fools who had been sleeping on the rocks too long! But we were on a mission.
Finally we found him, the babe lying in the manager, just as the angel had said.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”
There by the manger, enveloped in the peace of the now-silent night, we worshipped our Savior, the Christ.
That night, of all nights, I was glad to have had my sons along with me—to see what we saw.
That tiny baby was our Great Shepherd come to lay down his life for his sheep.
How wonderful that I know him, that I can call on his name! I will praise him with my children and future generations.
How could the shepherds have called on him in whom they did not believe?
And how could they have believed in him of whom they had not heard?
And how could they have heard except for the angelic messengers who were sent to tell them?
And that night, “they returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20).
As the shepherds returned praising God, they surely told those around them of the marvelous birth of the Messiah. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring that good news! Take a moment to remember and thank God for the people in your life who shared the glorious story of Jesus Christ with you. Pray for the missionaries who are sharing the good news with others around the world today.
The Christmas Season in Nicaragua
There aren’t shepherds in Nicaragua like there were in Judea. But our Live Global national partner, Alvaro, does raise pelibüey, which is a Cuban breed of sheep. He also serves as a spiritual shepherd as he is planting a church in his farming community. He recently asked us to help with a Vacation Bible School “trunk-or-treat” as an alternative to the Nicaraguan holiday La Purisima.
La Purisima is a Nicaraguan festival celebrated from November 28 to December 8 that commemorates the immaculate conception of Mary, which is the Catholic doctrine that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of original sin.
La Purisima is the largest holiday of the year for many Nicaraguans and dominates the Christmas season here. Families build altars in their homes and devote days to prayer. In downtown Managua, businesses and government agencies sponsor large altars that are judged, with winners decided in different categories. The festival culminates with La Gritaría, or “The Shouting,” in which participants shout back and forth the question, “What causes such joy?” and the response, “The conception of Mary!”. The day’s activities are a mixture of the US traditions of Halloween trick-or-treating; Christmas carols, gifts, and food; and Fourth of July fireworks.
Later in December, most Nicaraguans celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, and there are fireworks at midnight all around the country. Christmas Day is a relatively quiet family day like it often is in the US.
Prayer Requests for Nicaragua:
- Pray for the physical and spiritual well-being of the 10 ABWE missionaries in Nicaragua as they serve to equip and encourage the church.
- Pray for prefield missionaries who are currently raising funds to serve in Nicaragua, and that more missionaries will come.
- Pray for short-term missions teams to come to Nicaragua and our ministry, Centro ABEM. Short-term missions teams make a long-term impact helping our church partners transform their communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Praise the Lord for the recent sale of the front acres of Centro ABEM! Following the sale, we have to relocate our entrance road closer to the fence line of the adjacent residential neighborhood. Please pray for a solution to issues regarding this fence line: surface water run-off, trash, and cows have been damaging our property, and thieves pass through our property to rob the houses in the development. Relocating our entrance road makes finding a solution critical for everyone. Pray that ABWE’s organizational status in Nicaragua will remain stable so that we can continue serving as God wills.
This Advent season, learn how God is working around the world to bring the hope of Jesus to those who have never experienced him before. Download our free new resource, Give Joy to the World: An Advent Devotional from the Mission Field, for you and your family to enjoy this Christmas.