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12-19-2021 - Christmas Evening of Music

A special evening of music to commemorate Christmas was held on Sunday, December 19, with a theme of “Christmas Around the World.” Following a welcome and prayer by pastor Dave Lambert, the symphony orchestra opened with “Emmanuel Medley,” and then the first of several video messages from overseas was shown. This one was from Raju Rayudo of India, and he mentioned that Christmas is a great time to give gifts to our neighbors in need, and especially to share the Gospel with them. Following that, Oliver and Elouise Tonning, dressed in their traditional Norwegian outfits, sang “Happy Birthday, Jesus,” and then Janice Calhoun and Sungun Yune played “We Three Kings” and “Deck the Halls Fantasy” together on the piano. Sister Sungun, who is originally from South Korea, then shared a testimony of how she received a doll from missionaries Harold and Sally Barrett as a Christmas present when she was a little girl, and later as an adult she understood that the doll represented God’s great love, and that doll is still special to her today. The next song was played with her husband and son on the clarinet and violin and was titled “Blessings on Christmas.” 

The second video message of the evening featured Gloria Nelson of Jamaica and Roxana Becerra of Chile. Sister Gloria said that she has many childhood memories of special Christmas decorations, foods, and activities, but when she became a Christian she came to understand that the real reason for celebration at Christmastime is the fact that a Savior was born to save the world from their sin. Sister Roxana said that as a little girl she mostly looked forward to presents at Christmas, and now she knows that the greatest gift of all is from God, and that is His Son, Jesus. This was followed by the choir singing “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” 

Ade Asaya, who is from Nigeria, also shared a testimony of how God has helped and increased her family, and how thankful she is for God’s blessing in her life. Along with her husband and children, including their newly adopted triplets, she sang “Listen to the Angels Singing” in Yoruba. Then her two oldest children sang a duet of “One Quiet Moment.” Following them, a video was shown of Yoshiki Ohno of Japan, who mentioned that very few in Japan know the real meaning of Christmas, but he is thankful that God’s light is still shining in that country. The next song featured the choir with an especially joyful children’s choir singing “Born in Bethlehem.” Following this, the choir also sang “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.”

The last video message was from Nivaldo Peixoto of Brazil. He said Christmas is a time to reflect on the past year, and despite the trials that his family has been through in 2021, he was grateful to say that God has been faithful and has only increased their faith. Then a men’s quartet sang “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child,” and the symphony orchestra played “Season’s Greetings.” One final testimony was given by Arthur Ruiz of the Philippines, who spoke about how Christmas is celebrated extravagantly in his native country, and it is personally very meaningful to him because he was saved during a special Christmas service. He sang a popular Filipino Christmas song called “Christmas in Our Hearts,” and then a verse of “Silent Night” in his native language before inviting the congregation to join in singing a verse in English. The finale of the program was the choir and orchestra singing a rousing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” 

It was deeply touching to hear the personal testimonies and how Jesus brought "joy to the world”—the whole world! The evening of music was a wonderful time to reflect on God’s love and the joy we have in being part of His family that spans the globe.

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