It may seem dark now...
...but Light is always breaking through.
December 21. Winter Solstice. The darkest day of the year. The shortest day of sunlight and longest night, when the sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. After Winter Solstice, the night slowly but surely starts getting shorter and the day longer as spring approaches. Light is always coming.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." Isaiah 9:2
At the end of what has been a very dark year for our world, light continues to break through. Jesus is the Light of the World. Where He is, there is light. Even when it seems like the darkness is closing in, light is there. Just like Winter Solstice, it’s only dark for so long – the darkness never lasts and it never wins.
It’s been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? I want to believe that saying hello to a new year will mean saying goodbye to a worldwide pandemic, global shutdowns, toilet paper shortages, masks and dry hands from too much hand sanitizer. But we know that January 1st is not magically going to fix everything. Yet we have HOPE, because we know that there is always victory coming and light is breaking through.
Last December in my personal ministry update I talked about my expectancy for 2020. This was supposed to be my year to travel to at least one of our partner countries for the first time, but instead I have remained here in Bakersfield. I was also scheduled to participate in Biola University’s Missions Conference in March, the week after everything shut down. But you know what I also had on my list for 2020? Laughing a lot! And boy did I laugh a lot. I also deepened my relationships with people that I love, had more time to read my Bible and fell more in love with the work that I do.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the ministries of Children to Love. Though we thought there may still be a possibility of sending teams to visit our partners this year, that quickly changed as borders remained closed, travel was restricted and the number of cases continued to rise in most places. Though there have been many challenges, the pandemic has also opened the door for opportunities that our partners may never have had otherwise. Berachah Children’s Home in India has fed and ministered to over 10,000 people over the last 9 months. Mercy Childcare Ministry (MCCM) in Uganda rescued children off the streets, including 11 teenage boys who were without food due to the shutdowns. One of those boys, Brian, was one of several who ended up giving their lives to Jesus at MCCM, and Brian has now been reunited with his family (pictured above). Despite the circumstances of our world, CTL welcomed our fifth ministry partner this year – Grace Boarding House in Mae Sot, Thailand, home to 54 children. Our partners have had to make many changes and adapt to new regulations brought on by COVID-19, but they have done so with grace and perseverance and have continued to thrive.
This year has made my job all the more critical as I have needed to quickly and effectively tell the story of the impact of COVID-19 on the ministries of Children to Love. But not only the impact: the amazing stories of what God has done in the midst of the pandemic. One of the rewarding things about this year is the time that I've been able to spend with Gabi from Romania (pictured left with me). She is now here in Bakersfield for college and is pursuing a degree in…Communications! We’ve been able to spend quite a bit of time together and she will soon start working as my Communications Intern. She is such a testament to what CTL is all about. She practically grew up with CTL as she and her family have been involved in the ministry for over 10 years. Her dad abandoned them when she was young and the family is very poor. It was always her dream to come to the US for college and I am blessed to be able to walk with her on this journey. She is intelligent, speaks fluent English (I would argue better than I do!) and is so much fun to be around. Though I wasn’t able to travel to Romania this year… God brought a piece of Romania to me!
I pray you all have a very Merry Christmas and happy, healthy, hope-filled New Year (COVID-free!)
Julie, CTL Communications Coordinator