Rejoice the Lord Has Come
Dear Faithful Friends and Supporters,
Hello and God bless you in the name of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ! I hope that this update finds you all nestled up close to the fire and with or near your family for this holiday season. As we have had a few brief days as a nation to collectively pause and remember the reason for this wonderful time of year, I hope that your relationships have been strengthened and your walk with Jesus fortified.
Christmas in Colombia is celebrated a bit differently than what we are used to celebrating as Americans. The festivities begin around the 1st of December when Medellín kicks off its annual river light festival, which will remain lit into January. There are many different festivities throughout the city to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Colombia, being a staunchly Catholic nation, is not without a lack of religious reminders regarding why we celebrate Christmas. There are nativity scenes set up in many prominent areas of the city with lights adorning almost every public square of the many different neighborhoods. In addition there is the “pólvora,” or firework explosions that go off almost nightly unto the early hours of the morning, which can be exciting and not so exciting, if you know what I mean. Then there is the “Novena,” which is a special nine day celebration prior to Christmas Day where families get together and sing songs, eat, and celebrate for nine days in a row. Finally for their Christmas Day celebration they get together for a midnight meal on Christmas Eve after which they open gifts, and then the celebration is complete. Christmas Day proper is more a day of relaxing and recovery from the month’s worth of “fiestas.” Also interesting is the fact that the nativity scenes do not contain Baby Jesus in them until Christmas Day. One might think that Colombia has no need for the Gospel and is very Christ centered until one sees the endless alcohol and drug intoxication and the blind chanting of a “religious” but very spiritually empty Catholic culture, which continues forward based on nothing more than dead orthodoxy and tradition.
Our church, Friendship in Christ Baptist Church, is doing great and we have had some special activities to remember Jesus’ birth. We had a Christmas party and a small Christmas music special. We have continued to see visitors attending and have seen an increase of people desiring personal discipleship. We will soon be ready to baptize new believers and add a few new members to the church. Praise the Lord!
We were blessed with the opportunity to make a short visit back home, too, when our parents surprised us and offered to help get us home. This trip has proven to be a double blessing as we have been able to take care of a few administrative duties that required our presence stateside, while giving both grandparents and our kids some special Christmas memories. We will return home to Colombia shortly after the New Year.
May 2014 prove to be fruitful and memorable and may God bless all you have planned for His Glory in this upcoming year. Thank you to all who have made our Christmas brighter by your thoughts, emails, cards, and generous holiday gifts. We are truly humbled by the honor you bestow upon us in allowing us to represent you here in the needy country of Colombia.
Together, for God and Colombia,
The Mark Gerosin Family