Christmas memories

This will be her first Christmas in America, and it seems that many Christmases mark important times in her life.

At age 6, after she had accepted Christ, she celebrated her first Christmas in Bhutan. The gospel had traveled from India through a nurse and a doctor, and finally made its way to her family in Bhutan. The family invited friends and celebrated in their home. As they sang and prayed, the local authorities barged in and demanded that all men 18 or older come with them. The men left, and those who remained banded together in prayer.

Within a month, Dill and her family were on their way to Nepal. They sang and prayed, still celebrating Christmas, as they traveled to India with several families and all of their belongings crammed in two trucks. They had given many of their belongings away to family or friends. One of the pastors who had led them to the Lord wept as he heard the joyous singing of these displaced people coming into India. He helped them get onto other trucks and make it to the refugee camps in Nepal.

From there, Dill spent 19 Christmases in a Nepali refugee camp. Some of them involved Dill singing carols three hours a day for weeks in December. Her church group traveled the long rows of houses, singing carols in the open meeting places of the camps. They needn’t go house to house, for the singing drew crowds from as far as the sound could reach. The singing was interspersed with gospel preaching.

In 2008, Dill’s Christmas was spent on the Pakistani border. Because of her involvement in the local Bible school, she was invited to come to a school on the border to sing carols. Dill and her husband, Purna, along with other carolers from the Nepali refugee camp, traveled the long train ride to the border town. When news got around, many schools and government agencies urged them to come and sing for them as well. They spent about a month in this largely Muslim area, singing and sharing the gospel. This year, she is helping lead Christmas programs in Dallas, in the midst of trying to provide for her family in this vastly different culture.

Hearing about her Christmas stories gives me perspective. I know this Christmas, and hopefully the ones that follow, I won’t be thinking about the latest gadget or presents under the tree.

Matthew Johnston, a student at Wayland Baptist University, is serving as a Go Now missionary with Segue, a ministry to refugees.

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