Dear brothers and sisters of the body of Christ of the Kenai Peninsula: Greetings and blessings in the name of Jesus, our savior.
I am writing to you as we are all preparing to celebrate his coming in the form of a tiny baby -- the miraculous birth of our Messiah.
As we prepare for this celebration, I feel led to share with you excerpts from a letter I just received from Donna Davidson, board president of Love INC of Fairbanks to the brother and sister board members of Love INC of the Kenai Peninsula.
"I'm writing your board on behalf of our board of directors because we've heard of your current struggles and quoting I Thessalonians 1:2-5, 'We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.'
"We too have endured times of hardship and scarcity and have had many extend the support mentioned in I Thessalonians. We want you to know that our love, prayers and support are with you as well.
"God showed himself faithful and demonstrated that we do reap a reward when we stand fast and faint not. Whatever the course of action and direction the Lord has for you, that word is yours as much as it is ours.
"However, we believe it is not enough to pray or encourage, but we must help if we can.
"If James 2:14-17 is the essence of why Love INC exists in our communities, shouldn't it characterize our relationship as affiliates or fellow arm-bearers as well?
"If the Father has abundantly blessed us here in Fairbanks, shouldn't we freely give as we have freely received?
"And, having suffered as you have, shouldn't we comfort with the comfort we ourselves received from God?
"The answers must be 'yes, yes and yes' because we are not merely affiliated nonprofit organizations. We are actually the churches of our area joined together as a body to minister to the poor, the hurting and the broken in our communities.
"Therefore, in the spirit of Acts 2:45, the body of Christ of the Tanana Valley is sending the enclosed tithe for the body of Christ of the Kenai Peninsula. We bless you to use it for the Love INC mission as God leads, trusting him to show you the future and how this resource can be best applied.
"We give it in specific obedience to the Spirit's voice in the moment and want you to feel no more obligation beyond the moment than we do in sending it. It is simply today's expression of 'We love you and stand with you.'
"In closing, I want you to understand this truth: You are not alone. The Interior family of God is here for our brothers and sisters on the peninsula because we must 'carry one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.'
"May the Father's favor rest on you in these coming days. As we look forward to hearing from you, your Love INC family in Fairbanks will keep you in our prayers."
As I read this letter aloud to my staff at our office, I began to weep. We clearly felt their love for us and the joy they had in sending a gift of $5,000 to us.
We were blessed and united across the miles through the Spirit, for the glory of God. The letter meant as much, if not more, as the financial gift.
So, body of Christ of the Kenai Peninsula, as we celebrate Jesus, let us seize the momentum from this letter and continue to move forward.
Let us give him one of the greatest gifts we can in the year to come -- a body that gives thanks for one another, prays for one another, labors in love, patience and hope, carrying one another's burdens as we minister to the poor, hurting and broken of our community.
Let us bless one another as we have been blessed, trusting God to lead us in our future together. Let us express to one another, "I love you and stand with you. You are not alone."
Merry Christmas with love in the name of Christ.
Janine Espy is executive director of Love INC of the Kenai Peninsula. For more information call 283-5252.
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