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...Speak; your servant is listening

Written by James and Jayanthi Wilson
January 2, 2008

The story of the Lord appearing to Samuel is not one normally associated with Christmas. And yet, I find it an appropriate one for those of us who have seen countless Christmases come and go. The "awe" and "excitement" of the season just doesn't have quite the sparkle as it did when we were children. Yes, we believe in Christmas and the importance of Jesus coming into the world. But after so many years, it is so easy to find ourselves no longer listening and waiting for the unexpected. The story of Samuel's encounter with the Lord, reminds us that God can speak to us at times and places we least expect. Christ's coming into the world in a manger at Bethlehem, is a mirror of God. Paul says, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself." Being transformed by the miracle of God's presence really can be an awesome gift that never pales, never ages, never loses its power!

Sedibeng, a training center for disadvantaged youth and women, and where Jayanthi has worked since coming to Botswana, has been going through a period of re-structuring for the last several months. Faced by a crisis of both leadership as well as finances, it has become easy to lose heart; to run out of enthusiasm. Rather than listen to God, the inclination is to disengage and to give up. And yet, the message of I Samuel and Christmas remain crystal clear- be ready and willing; say to God, "Speak; your servant is listening." A short time ago, Jayanthi received a phone call from a person who was opening a restaurant and who had remembered the good work having been done at Sedibeng. Although no students were currently enrolled, she was able to make contact with some of the young people who had trained in the past. Some of them have now been hired and are with hope. Yes, God doesn't always come in the ways we expect; nor by the plans we have made for Him. But God is certainly with us. Are we listening?

At Kgolagano College, where I work, there are always countless hurdles to overcome. At the moment, we are attempting to create new certificate and diploma programmes; improve the college's library as well as provide relevant outreach programmes to those individuals incarcerated in the nation's prisons, those families struggling with HIV/AIDS, as well as for lay leaders in the local church. With theological students charged less than USD 200.00 for both tuition and books, the long-term viability of such programmes would appear bleak. Nonetheless, each and every time I see these students and witness how their education has impacted on their lives, as well as the lives of their families and the churches they serve, I am reminded that God is with us. Are we listening?

This Christmas, our family will be scattered across the globe. Shanthi is in Fargo, North Dakota; Priya is in Corvalis, Oregon; Jayanthi is in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, India and I am in Gaborone, Botswana. At such a time, we pray that we remain vigilant to receive the feeling of God's presence and have the patience and the wisdom to know when it comes. As a family, we give thanks to God for the coming of Christ.

Jim and Jayanthi Wilson

James & Jayanthi Wilson are missionaries with the Kgolagano Theological College in Gaborone, Botswana.  Jim serves as a teacher of theology at Kgolagana Theological College.  Jayanthi serves as seconded staff to the Mabogo Dinku Advice Centre in Gaborone, Botswana.  She works in community development at the Mabogo Dinku Advice Centre.

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