Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas in the village part 2: the community

Christmas in the village is rather under-celebrated here – a surprising fact given that Zambia is considered a Christian country. Unfortunately, a lot of “Christians” also really struggle to see the importance of the day.

“I have no idea why I should celebrate,” said our friend Daniel. “Why celebrate the day Herod tried to kill Jesus?” asked Ronald. “The Bible says nothing about 25th December,” reasoned Patrick.

Sad. These three gents are at least thoughtful about the day, having considered why they don’t celebrate. But for your average Fimpulu folk, Christmas is an excuse for chicken and beer. Our old laying hens were ready for sale on Monday the 24th. All 100 were bought and paid for by 7am. Crazy. Christmas is probably the most notorious drinking day of the year. The bars do more business on Christmas than any other day. Not surprisingly, the clinics and hospitals do more business on Christmas day too.

We have tried hard to rally the faithful Christians to help usher in the true - and slightly less inebriated -  meaning of Christmas. Our goal this year was to engage the community in a winsome and meaningful way to help people understand the significance of it all. We took advantage of the extra hands from our short term volunteers to put together a children’s program. For three weeks, 60 kids from the village came together every afternoon for practices and times of singing and fun. Never having done anything like this before, the kids were a little rough around the edges at first and practices were more chaos than organized. But they sure did love those times together. 

so, what do angels wings look like anyway?
this was the first try...

ok sheep sheeps, pay attention now...

practicing lines with the narrators, a stunned mary and the angel

Christmas Eve we loaded all of the school kids who have been living with us at the farm, along with the workers and a few select friends and packed them into the back of the land rover and trailer. In low gear, we trekked through the village, up the road and back singing Christmas carols. The group really only new the tune for Joy to the World (in Bemba) and so we heard that sung for about two hours. The onlookers along the road smiled and seemed to enjoy hearing the music, and Bronwyn had a nice soundtrack for her evening nap.

joy to the world!!!

students sing out

farm workers and friends actually sounded awesome

I'm sure she was dreaming of a white Christmas

Christmas morning we had planned on attending Church, though the service was canceled due to a funeral. Instead we enjoyed our family time together and gathered up the costumes and props for the children’s program!

We did three shows for the community – one for the youth and two for the adults who came to watch. They kids involved were awesome!

shepherds being visited by the heavenly hosts

there's no room at the inn people!

Herod scheming with his wise men

follow the star to worship the King

Singing LOUD, telling the world that there's no one like Jesus!

At the conclusion of the play, Jeremy gave a message about the reason for Christmas. He explained that if Jesus had never been born, we would never have received a savior. Without a savior, we are still in our sins, separated from God. Jesus coming to earth meant that God had come to dwell among us! To make things right, at last! THAT’S A REASON TO CELEBRATE! It was a timely and appropriate message given the conversations we’ve been having with people. Following the message we sang some songs together and enjoyed the little ones a bit more before all going home. 

Christmas carol sing along

the shepherds - a motley crew

so much hard work tuckered this little guy out

Our volunteers who had worked so hard on the program were a little bummed at the small turn out. We tried to encourage them that the village has never seen anything like this before. The fact that most of the kids parents were drinking, not watching them be sheep and wisemen is not shocking. But hopefully we took another step forward this year. Another step in the direction of lifting Christ up as worthy of being celebrated on the day of his birth. Another step in raising up the next generation to think differently about December 25th. Another step in engaging the community, challenging their theology and representing the ONE THING that is worth getting really amped up about!

And that, my friends, is what Christmas in the village is like!


  1. We appreciate everything you and Bethany are doing for these people. It's a joy to read your updates and to see little Bronwyn growing. Your life is blessed for being a blessing to God's chosen ones. We have you in prayer daily.
    Jean and Dale

  2. GREAT STUFF! love, Rebecca Jo in Kiev