The Weary World Rejoices
The contrasting language used in this phrase moves me. A world weary from its brokenness and sin, weighed down, burdened, grieving… suddenly rejoicing. And the rejoicing doesn’t take away the weariness, but it shines through in the midst of it. It is in this space that our rejoicing is deeper and more beautiful, because it is marked by pain but also defiant of its hold on us.
The realities of the past two years are heavy. The world pandemic has caused loss of life, isolation, division. Political unrest, social division, even church division. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, like the brokenness around us is bursting through the seams and reaching an all-time high. However, I reflect on the first Christmas and am reminded of the worldly realities when Jesus was born. I think we often paint a cozy picture of our Savior’s birth without understanding the full weight of the social and political climate during the time of his birth.
- Political oppression, Cesar ordered a census taken of the entire Roman world, possibly for tax purposes
- Herod rose to power with the support of Rome and was known for holding a military dictatorship over Judea.
- About 10% of the population was born into nobility and lived lavishly; the remaining 90% worked in the fields. It’s safe to say that by our standards, injustice was built into this system–10% at the top controlled virtually everything.
- After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee and live as foreigners in Egypt, isolated and outcast.
Yet, in the midst of this messiness, Christ willingly entered the world in a humble and lowly way… and the world rejoiced. The king who will redeem all things has arrived!
The oppression and isolation didn’t end with Jesus’s birth, but worship entered into its midst. A deeper reality began that would reach its full realization on the cross. God’s heavenly kingdom was coming down to earth.
As we enter into this Christmas season, what does it look like for us to pursue worship and rejoice?
The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the Lord,
And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29:19
1. Pray for Julián and Serina Arias. Julián and Serina are working with a church plant in the town of Peñol, outside of Medellín. Every two weeks, Julián leads worship, preaches, and provides counsel for this community of believers. Pray for those attending to be affirmed in their faith in Christ Jesus and that the Lord would bring new people to not only attend services but to come to faith.
2. Pray for PARAKALEO ministry. SAM missionary Olga Chiang is a catalyzer for PARAKALEO which trains, supports, and values women involved in church planting in Latin America. Five Peruvian women joined other women from across Latin America for training. Pray that the women will be equipped and encouraged for fruitful ministry.
3. Pray for the Bolivia Taskforce. Missionaries and local partners will be meeting December 10-13 to pray together and discern how best SAM can support kingdom work in Bolivia. Please pray that God gives them vision for the work in the midst of recent political and social upheaval in the country.
4. Pray for Tim and Mindy Callahan. Tim and Mindy are new missionaries in Brazil. After language learning in Cuiaba, they will be serving at Ammi, using their gifts in agricultural training and linguistics to serve the ministry. Pray for Tim and Mindy during their transition to the field, language acquisition, and cultural immersion.
5. Pray for Kat Guild. Kat recently finished language school in Barranquilla and is officially joining the ministry team there. Pray for the Lord’s discernment and wisdom on how and where to serve. As her Spanish improves, please pray that God would both bring about meaningful relationships and that He would also show her how to be a better friend to those He puts in her path.
6. Pray for Mike Mahon and SAMAIR Peru. Praise God for His provision of a new plane in Peru! With its arrival, pray for Mike as he handles the details of customs, other paperwork, and end-of-year parts shipments.
7. Pray for Jenna Weigner. Jenna is a midwife and serves the indigenous and rural groups in eastern Bolivia. Jenna also networks with maternity hospitals and breastfeeding groups across Bolivia to offer education and instruction to medical staff and new mothers. Pray that God would use Jenna to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the mothers and their children.
8. Pray for the Center of Formation of Leaders. Many students are struggling to make it each night to this bible institute in western Brazil, several driving one hour by motorcycle. Pray for endurance and dedication for these future church leaders. Pray for the ministry worker who is teaching Doctrine of Sin and Christian Leadership this semester.
9. Pray for Joel and Angel Ballew. Joel and Angel are mentoring Alfredo, Natalia, and Steffin, three young adult musicians that are starting a foundation for children who would be otherwise unable to learn classical music. Pray that the foundation is a blessing to the community. Pray as well that God would give the Ballews opportunities to disciple these young leaders and deepen their relationships.
10. Pray for missionaries over Christmas. As we celebrate the Lord’s birth, please pray for opportunities to share the hope and joy of Jesus’ incarnation with friends and neighbors.
11. Pray for Jeff HAuse. Jeff recently celebrated 30 years of service in Bolivia. His church recognized his years of service, and he enjoyed a reception with friends and coworkers. Praise God for Jeff’s life and ministry in Bolivia and pray that He gives Jeff many more fruitful years of ministry there.
12. Pray for Ammi graduates. Seven students, representing five different indigenous groups, completed the 3-year course at Ammi. Pray for God to give them joy and purpose as they follow Christ and return to their villages equipped with the Word and ministry training.
13. Pray for Tracey Culley and Drew Warrick. Tracey will be joining the ministry team in Recife, Brazil. Drew will be joining the ministry team in Armenia, Colombia after a year of training in La Paz, Mexico. Pray for these appointees as they raise funds and prepare for ministry.