By J. and T. Park
November 22, 2021 | Southeast Asia
Advent is all about God in Jesus, clothed in human flesh, coming into our world for the salvation of humankind. We often call this the Incarnation. Jesus came into our broken world, felt our hurt, ate our food and walked in our shoes so that we might relate to him on a human level. Through that relationship, Jesus introduces to us the grace, beauty, and invitation that is the Kingdom of God. Although the Advent took place some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, Jesus continues to reveal the goodness of God’s Kingdom through his church made up of his disciples. We are called to go to all peoples to build true bridges of relationships. Through those relationships, Jesus continues to reveal the goodness of God’s Kingdom.
From the beginning of June until the beginning of October, most of this country we live in was in complete lockdown because of a surge in COVID-19 infections. Most business were closed, public transportation ceased, even travel between regions was forbidden. Everyone was ordered to stay at home in the hope that the infections could be managed. For those who were able to work from home and still earn a salary, it was difficult and frustrating but not impossible. However, for those whose businesses were forced to close and for the workers who relied on those jobs for their livelihoods, four months of lockdown was devastating. The poor were especially hard hit. They had to make impossible decisions between rent or medicine and food.
This is where a United Methodist congregation close to a major city sprang into action. They collected donations from their members and added more with funds from the Global Ministries’ mission initiative. They bought the most necessary foods to distribute to those so harshly affected by the lockdown. They called the bags consisting of rice, sugar, oil and fish sauce “Love Gifts,” and they went out to deliver the gifts in hard-hit areas. There were no vaccines yet, so they were laying their own safety on the line. They had to request permission from the local authorities to implement this program, but by God’s grace, permission was granted, food collected, and vehicles found to acquire and deliver the food. As they were organizing the trucks full of food into bags for distribution, even their neighbors, who were not members of the church nor even Christians, started to come and help pack and distribute because they knew where the food was going. Soon, word spread that this congregation formed a place where the poor and suffering could find help.
Friends, Advent is about God in Jesus Christ crossing all barriers to come into our world and proclaiming the goodness of God’s Kingdom. We celebrate and honor that by crossing barriers ourselves to share the goodness of God’s Kingdom.
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” John 20:21 (NIV)
The Rev. J. Park and his wife T. Park began missionary service this year in Southeast Asia. J. Park is the country director for the United Methodist mission and T. Park serves as the coordinator for Christian Education. As you bear witness to the presence of God in your life this Christmas season, consider a gift to Global Ministries Where Most Needed, Advance #011338a .