Tuesday, December 17, 2019
How is the birthday of our Savior celebrated where no pine trees grow and the temperature on Christmas will likely be 90 degrees? Here in the United States, when we think of Christmas, we often picture snow, a magnificently decorated tree and children waking Christmas morning to open gifts stacked beneath it. We thought it would be an interesting comparison to share a little about Christmas in Haiti, some memories, and the plans at Source of Life for Christmas.
Traditions in Haiti
The Christmas season is a special season for many Haitians although traditions vary according to location and depending on the family’s income. Most people in Haiti recognize the Christmas season as a religious Holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. However, secular activities have also become popular in the festivities among Christians and non-Christians alike for those who can afford it. There are even traditions about Santa Clause who is known as Tonton Nwèl or Papa Nwèl (literally, Uncle Christmas or Father Christmas).
Among Christians, there is a very strong focus on the birth of Christ with the main celebration usually taking place on December 24th, rather than December 25th. Many people attend late-night church services on Christmas Eve, and a special meal is often enjoyed after church with friends and family into the early hours of the morning. Often Christmas Day is a quiet day because people stayed awake overnight to have fun on Christmas Eve.
Jacques and Marie Merine have fond memories from their childhood in Haiti.
Marie usually found a wrapped gift on her bed when she wakened on Christmas morning. Her parents told her it was from Santa Clause; she understands now that her uncle who lived in the United States was sending money to help her parents.
Jacques’ special memory is from January first; the children would go to all the adults and tell them “good morning” and “happy new year.” In response, their parents, aunts and uncles, and god-parents would give the children a few gourde (a Haitian coin that is worth less than one US penny today). He remembers feeling like those coins were a lot of money!
Christmas Plans at Source of Life
The entire week surrounding Christmas will be a special time at Legliz Christienne de Jovin. Pastor Miguerson shared these details about what is being planned:
At the Wednesday evening worship service on December 18th, Pastor Miguerson will be distributing food for the congregation to take home with them. He plans to explain from Acts 20:35 about the blessings people receive when they share what they have.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Beginning Sunday, December 22nd through Friday, December 27th, the church has scheduled a week of worship and prayer each night to give thanks to God for the year. The theme for these services will be from Psalm 119:12
“Mèsi, Bondye. Moutre m’ tou sa ou vle m’ fè.”
Literal translation: “Thank-you, God. show me all that you want me to do.”
Finally on Sunday night, December 29th, there is a special Christmas party planned for the church. Everyone will dress up up very nice, the church will be beautifully decorated, and they will share a special meal together. The ladies on staff at Source of Life will need the help of some ladies from the community; together they will spend many hours preparing an outstanding full course meal for everyone.
The celebration on December 29th will be all night. They will invite some other people from the community to join them. Some groups will come and share special songs. They will spend time sharing testimonies about what God has done for them, but it will also be a night of FUN together. There will be jokes and laughter and likely skits by the young people. Pastor Miguerson reminds us that the ladies on staff at Source of Life spend all year preparing food and taking care of the children and rarely have time to have fun, but everyone will gather at the church on December 29th for a relaxing and fun time together.
In the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah of the world being in darkness,
“the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you…” Isaiah 9:2-3a
Truly the world was “in darkness,” but Jesus was the “great light” who came into the world, bringing joy to all mankind.
In the midst of a very dark year for the nation of Haiti, the ministry of Source of Life and Legliz Christienne de Jovin have continued to shine the light of the gospel of Christ in Gressier, Haiti. We praise God for the leadership of the staff members at the safe house and Pastor Miguerson at the church throughout the year. They are bright lights as they minister in their community. We pray that they will be strengthened and encouraged spiritually and that they will enjoy times of great laughter and joy as they gather for their week of revival services and Christmas party.