Christmas in Pnong

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For Christmas 2023, our school on the Pnong project, Christensen Adventist School (CAS), changed its focus. Typically, the school prepares a large program on its premises. Teachers prepare a Christmas song with each classroom, and parents come to enjoy the beautiful music and have a snack.

Instead of our usual program, CAS visited a low-income school in a nearby village. Students and teachers brought gifts for the children and their families, prepared games and Christmas songs, and shared the story of Jesus’ birth. Seeing everyone’s faces when they received their gifts was an even greater gift for us.

As the teachers and students used this program to bless others, they greatly blessed themselves. The school will continue these types of programs to spread the seed of the gospel to the communities’ children, youth and adults.

Christmas Program in Laoka and Pucharee
Christmas 2023 was also the first time our Laoka and Pucharee churches conducted their Christmas programs entirely on their own.

On the Friday afternoon before Christmas, the Laoka church held a simple Discover Bible Study (DBS) on the story of Jesus’ birth. The church was decorated with balloons everywhere. It seemed more like a birthday than Christmas, but Christmas is about remembering Christ’s birth, so it makes sense.

Afterward, we had an abundant dinner for the congregation and our guests, some of whom were interested in learning more about the Bible. While we hope to arrange a meeting with these families, we are happy we had contact, and they know we are here for them.

During dinner, we had a few hours of pleasant conversation that continued until nightfall. It was so cold that night that a venomous snake approached the fire where a young woman cooked the food. The snake slithered across her foot. She screamed, clubbed the snake to death with a big stick, and tossed the serpent into the fire. After the scare, we enjoyed fellowshipping as a church, uniting and strengthening ties.

The Pucharee church invited the Christensen Adventist School teachers and all the congregations (Laoka, Puthang and Ndreh) to a Christmas program on Sabbath morning. We had a typical worship program at church, studying the Bible, and I was asked to lead.

We read the story of the shepherds who, not knowing that night would be the most memorable of their lives, were herding sheep in fields near Bethlehem. Meanwhile, angels searched for someone to whom they would proclaim the message that God had become man. Perhaps they searched castles and mansions for scholars and connoisseurs of the Bible, but no one was prepared. Only these simple shepherds were ready to hear the world’s most beautiful song yet sung and to receive the news that its Savior had been born. God did not seek to manifest Himself to the wise of this world but to those with a willing heart (1 Corinthians 1:26-27). What a great lesson for our lives.

We then enjoyed a delicious meal and fellowship while the teachers presented gifts for the little ones in our churches.

We rejoice over the leadership we are beginning to see from our members. Although we collaborated on what they asked us to do, they were the ones who decided how they wanted to celebrate Christmas and prepared the program themselves. May God continue to bless their efforts.

Christmas Season Blessings in Ndreh
In the last couple of months of 2023, two daughters of a widowed woman began attending the church group in Ndreh. Their witness convinced their mother to begin attending the group every Saturday. While there may be a long way to go before we see a genuine conversion in the mother, we continue to cry out for her life and the lives of her little girls, who we pray may soon join the church.

In addition, the Laoka group paid a visit to the Ndreh group. We thought they would be more eager to get to know each other, but the groups participated from opposite sides of the building. When I invited them to interact with each other more, they laughed sheepishly and did not want to say anything. Honestly, it was humorous. As the minutes passed, they talked with each other more until they formed a nice friendship. Two young women who will be baptized met, talked and motivated each other in their decision. Thanks be to God for the Christian community, where we find a family in Christ everywhere we go.

Thank you
While the work can be exhausting, our team’s spiritual energies remain strong. God continues to be with us. Without your prayers and support, it would be impossible to be here, sharing the love of Jesus with the Pnong animist tribes.

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