“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you, through his poverty, might become rich.”
-2 Cor 8:9
“We now see what it meant for the Son of God to empty himself and become poor…It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely human beings, who through his poverty might become rich. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity-hope for pardon, hope for peace with God, hope for glory-because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message the world has ever heard, or will hear.” – from “Knowing God”, by J.I. Packer
Packer goes on to discuss our rightful response to this Christmas message: that we, like our Master, must live our whole lives on the principle of making ourselves poor, on “spending and being spent-to enrich fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern to do good to others” All to the glory of God.
Hope for Swazi We had the privilege of working alongside a beautiful example of this “spending and being spent” this past Thanksgiving week as my sister, Jocelyn and her husband, Mark, lead a team from their church, Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach, CA, to Swaziland to work is a small rural village building a church for Pastor Vusi. For a couple days we enjoyed working alongside the team in Swazi which was lush and green due to recent rains. It was priceless and precious to be “on mission” with my sister who is also my sister in Christ!
Below are before and after photos of the church building. We were only there for two days, but the Hope for Swazi team worked so hard and accomplished much in the five days they were there. Not only did they build a physical building, but through their love and encouragement to Pastor Vusi and the community, they built up the the spiritual church of King Jesus in this small rural village!
At the airport– Never fun to say good bye to loved ones:
Living Hope Christmas Celebrations Back in Pretoria – The Ladies’ Bible Study group wearing Christmas red gathered for one final time this year to celebrate the birth of Christ.
All of Living Hope Church gathered for its annual Christmas Celebration with an international dinner. We all brought food from our country of origin. After sharing this amazing, taste-of-heaven meal together, different members blessed us with Christmas songs.
Christmas Baby The Muphamuzi Baby Home will be closed over the Christmas holiday to provide much needed rest for the caregivers and volunteers. We are honored and thankful for the privilege to care for our annual Christmas Baby during the next week and a half until the Baby Home reopens in January.
Refugee families Update In our previous update we shared about two families in our church who were struggling to obtained refugee status in this country. Sadly, neither family was granted the documents needed. The couple who sat waiting in prison for several months and whose children were being held separately in a place of safety, were given just a few hours notice and the entire family was placed on an airplane headed back to their country of origin. We have heard from them and they are safe, although the country is currently experiencing much turmoil and unrest during these past few weeks. The other family who has been reunited for the past few months will soon be taken to a refugee camp in a neighboring country where they have lived before. Both families are obviously still in desperate need of prayer as they seek to resettle and make their way.
Although this was not the outcome we had hoped for, we hold on to the many precious truths that God reveals to us in His word. We know that many have prayed for these families and we trust that God has heard these requests. We know that He is sovereign, He is in control, and He is on His throne. We know that although things appear to have gone wrong, they haven’t really gone wrong at all. We know that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8: 18) We know that through the seemingly “bad” circumstances that God brings into our lives, He uses them to work for our “good”. And that “good” is shaping us and conforming us into the image of His Son who came to us 2000 years ago under poor, pitiable scandalous circumstances. His suffering and dying a brutal criminal’s death has meant redemption for those who, by faith “love him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28-29.
I love the way John Newton, former slave trader and writer of the beloved classic hymn “Amazing Grace”, says it:
Everything is needful that he sends; nothing can be needful that he withholds.
We also hold on to the most dazzling and triumphant truth of all time: “For I am convinced”, the apostle Paul confidently declares at the end of Romans 8, “ that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Clark Family Birthdays At the end of October our sweet, servant-hearted Sophia celebrated her 11th birthday by attended a production of “Annie” at the Montecasino Theatre in Johannesburg.
Our brilliant budding artist, Marissa Joy, turned 14 at the end of November. Her artwork was displayed at a student exhibition at a local gallery where she takes art lessons.
Both girls enjoyed using their gifts serving in Swaziland:
The Clark Family wish you a joyful and blessed Christmas. Our prayer for you in the New Year is that, “you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thank to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” -Col 1: 10-12