My very dear friends, near and far, Christmas, 2017
My Christmas letter must sometimes sound a bit like an “annual report to shareholders.” Well that’s not entirely inappropriate, for you do, in fact, make a very great investment in me with your prayers and gifts. I remain accountable to you.
At this holy season I always think about Christmas Day in 1969. Edmund and I were so young. So innocent. We knew almost nothing of Papua New Guinea. But we knew Jesus and were convinced—enough to give our lives–that He had called us to go. We had this high and holy desire to translate the Word of God into the Nabak language, a people numbering 25,000 who had never received it. It was 48 years ago this Christmas Day that we flew out to their tiny airstrip for the first time to start the project.
We didn’t know anyone. We couldn’t understand a single word. Jonathan was 4½ months old. My oldest sister had died recently and grief lingered in my heart. On top of that we had just said good-bye to my parents in New York, then to Edmund’s mom in Germany. I still remember the tears in their eyes.
Our story, as strange as it is, does not rival the very first Christmas. I was not pregnant. We did not walk or bump on the back of a beast. We were not being taxed. We only had to deal with fleas, not sleep in a place with animals. I was not the mother of a King. No smelly shepherds came, awe-struck and excited. I kept reminding myself of these words that Jesus told his followers–“As the Father has sent me, I send you.” I know now, that there’s no higher calling, there’s no more glorious time to go—than at Christmas.
This year our Christmas is special. As I mentioned in my November letter, my daughter Heidi, hubby, Anthony and their two precious children, Nathaniel (3½) and Hannah (1½) were here visiting. We had an early Christmas party before they left to visit his family in California, then return to central Asia mid-January. I enjoyed my time with this jewel of a family. You can see that from the photos. We prayed together, played Scrabble and made Christmas cookies. It was fun to see Nathaniel try his first candy cane. I know they would appreciate your prayers as they go.
Well, this turned out to be more than a shareholders report, didn’t it? That year of 1969 with our arrival in the Nabak village started it all, and this year of 2017 I spoke of our times with the Nabak people at 87 meetings. Living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a different bed each night and dashing through airports is not exactly glamorous but impacting hundreds of people is energizing.
I am passionate that we get this Christmas message out to those who have not heard it. When Christ came he stripped Himself of every royal garment and entered into our world of hatred and cold indifference. Now it’s our turn. We have the money, knowledge and manpower to take the Gospel to every creature. Let’s start this Christmas and do it…because there’s no more glorious time to go—than at Christmas.
Enjoying God’s presence this Christmas,
Grace L. Fabian