Dear Friends and Family,
This is the season when we remember the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Messiah! While Christmas is a time when we thank God for giving his son, for our family it is also a time to remember the cost of service. Since moving to Zambia we’ve only celebrated one of the past nine Christmases together with family in Canada. It’s rare to have a family photo where our family is all together. That is why I’ve included a photo of our children from Anna and Hannes’s wedding – the last time our children were all together.
For me, Christmas is a reminder of the sacrifices that we make for the sake of the gospel. God has called us to serve in Africa, so we remain faithful to that call despite the separation that cross-cultural service brings. In a small way, our family’s experience can help us begin to understand the cost of the Incarnation, when Jesus left his heavenly home to come to earth as a baby, Immanuel (God with us). The apostle Paul writes,
Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)
In fact, Jesus’s birth was only the beginning of a long road that ultimately led to his complete separation from his father. On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). In the very moment that Jesus was experiencing the pangs of death, he was moved to anguish by an even greater pain: separation from his Father.
In this we can take comfort, that our Saviour, who loved us and died for us, has felt the same (and greater) pains that we feel, and can sympathize with us. We look forward to the day when our salvation will be complete and our separation, not only from loved ones but also from God himself, will be over:
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
So this Christmas I am reminded that the coming of the Messiah as a baby is just the opening chapter of God’s plan to end suffering, pain, separation, and death. We long for the day when Jesus will return and we will be united with him forever. “Come Lord Jesus!”
This past years has seen an extraordinary number of one-time expenses related to visas and immigration. These expenses have stretched our ministry account to the limit, but were done with a long-term vision in mind. We have already submitted applications for permanent residence in South Africa. If our applications are successful (and our immigration consultant has advised that we shouldn’t have any problems) then we will no longer need to return to Ottawa to apply for new visas every few years. This is significant since although I am currently on a five year visa, Kristina and Katie are on dependent visas that were only given for three years.
All of the expenses related to our immigration applications have been processed. Our support account now has a deficit of about $6,000, and we anticipate an ongoing need of $250 per month as we begin 2020. Please pray that these needs will soon be met so that we can begin the new year in good standing. As always we are thankful for the many gifts given in support of our ministry over the past year – your generosity confirms our continued call to ministry in Africa.
- Please to pray for expectant mothers Rebecca and Anna, and also for their husbands John and Hannes, as both couples are expecting babies this March
- Please pray for the students, faculty, and staff at the South African Theological Seminary
- Please pray for grace as I work on some significant projects at SATS, and also as I begin to take on more research students
- Please pray that our remaining financial support needs will be met
Blessings in Christ,
Tim & Kristina Churchill