The Waiting Game – Thursday, December 24

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

I couldn’t wait to go to the North and teach VBS to a whole lot of kids who didn’t know Jesus. Little did I know that Jesus was going to use that group of kids to teach me something as well.

Waiting is something I’m not always that good at. I get very impatient and like to have things happen immediately. My VBS kids, on the other hand, will patiently accept waiting.

Judi Luckhardt

Judi Luckhardt

“When is Bible School starting?” When told “later”, they wait outside the school, sometimes for hours. “When is snack?” “Later,” we tell them. And again they wait, even though it’s already mid-afternoon and they may not even have had breakfast yet. “When are you gonna come out and play with us?” “A little later,” they are told, and again they are content to wait. So is it any surprise that when we arrive each summer there they are…waiting for us?

Advent is a time of waiting. Every year we prepare for Christmas, anxiously waiting to celebrate of the birth of our Savior. As Christians, we rejoice in the fact that Jesus’ birth is not the end of the story, but merely the beginning! We exult in knowing that Jesus was born, died on the cross for our sins and rose again so that we could live with Him for eternity and now we wait for His return.

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son to save us. Bless the work of LAMP and help to bring the wonderful news of a Savior to our brothers and sisters in the North, many of whom are still waiting in darkness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Written by Judi Luckhardt,
Volunteer Missionary in Hall Lake, Saskatchewan
and L.A.M.P. Board Member

Familiarity – Wednesday, December 23

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

Ericka Wallace

Ericka Wallace

As our team drove into the village in which we would spend the next week, we observed that we were surrounded by beautiful mountains proclaiming the glory of their Creator. When I laid eyes on those mountains for the first time, God showed me that He was very familiar with what we were driving into: a village with stories of despair, sadness, and hurt, and a people in desperate need of a Savior.

When God inspired Isaiah to prophecy that Jesus would come to earth as a baby, He knew what Jesus would encounter. He knew mankind’s sin and despair. God knew that His Son would have to die on the cross to save humanity, and He knew that Christ in us would have a large and lasting impact on the lives of people everywhere. God knew all of this when He sent Jesus, and He continues to know everything about us and our friends in the North. Yet, despite our sins, He loves us all completely.

As you celebrate Advent this year, remember that the God who sent Jesus to earth also knows your heart, and feels all its hurts and joys. Lean on Him, trust in Him, and walk with Him, for He is very familiar with your story, and loves you completely. After all, Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead for you!

We pray:  Father, You are the God of all people, and You are aware of our desperate need for You. Thank you for sending Your Son to this sin-stricken world to rescue and redeem us. Amen.

Written by Ericka Wallace
Volunteer Missionary in Glen Vowel, British Columbia

Proclaiming Good News – Tuesday, December 22

“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Luke 2: 17 & 18 (NIV)

Tamara Alkema

Tamara Alkema

This summer marked our team’s thirteenth visit to Bearskin Lake First Nations to teach VBS. It was a joy to worship on Sunday with our brothers and sisters, and to observe a young woman teaching Sunday School to the children. This was an answer to our long-held prayers for year-round Christian education for the kids of the community. We were especially delighted to see that this young woman, now a mother of two, was a former VBS student of ours. What a joy to witness her proclaiming the Gospel to eager, young listeners!

Many years ago, in Bethlehem, the shepherds witnessed the coming of the Messiah firsthand. With great joy, they spread the Good News to all they met. They were the first missionaries! May we learn from their example and by the Spirit’s power never tire of proclaiming the birth, death, resurrection, and coming return of our wonderful Redeemer! We also pray that those who hear this wonderful message would be just as amazed as those first listeners in Bethlehem!

We pray:  Lord, thank you for how you use our diverse gifts of generosity, administration, teaching, and preaching to further your work in the North. May the telling and re-telling of the Good News bring many children and their families into your eternal kingdom. We stand in awe of what you will accomplish! Amen.

Written by Tamara Alkema, Grimsby, Ontario
Volunteer Missionary to Bearskin Lake, Ontario

Let’s Go! – Monday, December 21

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” Psalm 122:1 (NIV)

Jonathan Leinonen

Jonathan Leinonen

Though I have made the trip from Michigan to Tadoule Lake numerous times, I am always excited by my first glimpse of the church. After two days of traveling, I can hardly wait to say, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” The church where we hold VBS is modest, but it stands out with its bright white siding, its steeple and its cross. Inside, the furniture has been well used, the lamps are unlit, and the floor needs sweeping. Still, it is clear that this is a place of worship. It takes me to the first Christmas.

When the angels had left them, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15 NIV). So, they went to the first place of Christian worship: a stable. Its most notable furniture likely leaned under the weight of our infant King. It was probably dim in the stable and the floor was likely dirty. But Jesus’ presence made it the perfect house of worship.

Let us rejoice as we approach our house of worship this Christmas. The Redeemer of all nations has cleansed us by His blood shed on the cross. He feeds us with His body and Holy Word. Let’s go! Let’s rejoice! We are blessed to know what Jesus has done for us, and to go to His house.

We pray: Heavenly Lord, Your humble birthplace reminds me that we can worship You anywhere. Help me to rejoice in Your holy house with Your redeemed family, as we celebrate Your birth. Amen.

Written by Jonathan Leinonen
LAMP Volunteer to Tadoule Lake, Manitoba

Follow that Star! – Sunday, December 20

“When they [the Wise Men] had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9 (RSV)

Lori Dawkins

Lori Dawkins

Day Two of LAMP’s 2014 “Our God Saves” curriculum was the story of Jesus’ birth, and how God sent His Son to save us. To illustrate how the Wise Men followed the star that had appeared to lead them to baby Jesus, we put a yellow paper star at the top of a long stick. We had the “Holy Family” position themselves out of sight in a clump of trees. Then we led the children out of the classroom, around the gym, and past the playground, following the star until it came to where Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus were located! Wonder and excitement filled the air, as the children crowded around to see the new little baby, who was born to save us from our sins through His death on the cross.

Our team is privileged to guide the children and adults in our northern community on their journey to find Jesus. With God’s help, we try to be like the star, guiding the Wise Men in their journey to find Jesus. This Advent season, we pray that every heart would believe and then seek and follow Jesus.

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, as we await the birth of your Son, help us to remember to seek Him in all that we do, and to worship Him as our Savior and King!

Written by Lori Dawkins
Volunteer Missionary to Shamattawa, Manitoba

Coming Into – Saturday, December 19

“And while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger…” Luke 2:6-7 (GNT)

Rev. Bill Ney

Rev. Bill Ney

“Advent” comes from two Latin words: “ad” and “venio,” meaning “coming into.” Advent is the time to prepare to celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. His coming into our world signaled the fulfillment by our Heavenly Father of His promise to save us all through His Messiah! “Coming into” reminds me of when I came into our northern First Nations Canadian communities. Whenever I circled the plane around a community, I felt my excitement build. I was about to visit with and even minister to some of my First Nations friends! I will always be grateful for the warm and gracious welcomes I received.

What was Jesus’ reception like? Not so friendly. King Herod tried to have Him killed. As He grew up, He was mocked, beaten, and finally hung on a cross at Calvary to die. But, as God promised, He turned the Messiah’s death into victory: victory over the sin that entangles us, over Satan, who tempts us, and over our own flesh that daily betrays us. This was accomplished when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion.

As we recall Jesus’ “coming into” our world, let us thank God for being faithful to His Old Testament promises; let us recall Jesus’ courage and determination to fulfill the Father’s will and save us all. The gifts He gives us — of forgiveness, new life, and salvation — are free of charge. We receive them by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts … by the faith that the Spirit creates for us.

We pray: Lord, please bless your servants who “come into” many northern communities to build up the faith of our First Nations Canadian brothers and sisters. Thank you for this season of Advent and that Jesus continues to come to us today through His Word and Sacraments. Amen.

Written by Bill Ney
Volunteer Pastor/Pilot

In God’s Time – Friday, December 18

“God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. … All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3 (The Message)

Linda Stoetzer

Linda Stoetzer

I first heard about LAMP in 2002. It took 12 years and lots of prodding, but I finally answered God’s call to “go, teach, baptize, and make disciples.” Although not as old as Abram, I was apprehensive about leaving my country, my family, and my home for a place I’d never heard of. What a pleasant surprise awaited!

Learning about “Indian time” reminded me of “God’s time”: sometimes it just doesn’t seem to make sense. At a ripe old age, Abraham and Sarah finally had the child that God had promised them. A young virgin, Mary, gave birth to Jesus, God’s Son. Certainly this wasn’t in her plans! Yet, God used these miraculous events to bless the world.

God provided for my team. We were blessed with beautiful weather. The community embraced us and provided us and the children with lunches. More than 70 children came to hear how Jesus lived and died to save us from our sins. On Friday afternoon, two boys sat on the church steps with me and told me of their wish to be baptized. What a blessing we receive when we follow God’s plans and accept His timing!

We pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me. Keep prodding me to be a blessing to others, all in Your time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Written by Linda Stoetzer
Volunteer Missionary to Big Trout Lake, Ontario