For Christmas this year, we decided to have a Songhai Christmas party for all our believers & their families. Since most of our believers are fairly new in the faith, we knew that they have never celebrated Christmas ... & since most are the only believers in their villages, they wouldn't even have anyone to celebrate with this year.
Our believers come from a Muslim background where they have 2 huge holidays they celebrate every year. When they accept Christ, they leave their former way of life including these holidays. One believer told us, "I left my old life & the holidays I used to celebrate. I want to know how to celebrate the holidays that Christians do."
So we thought this would be a great opportunity to celebrate the Christmas holiday with them & give them an opportunity to be around like-minded Songhai. We usually only invite believers in to Niamey when we have conferences or discipleship seminars but we asked them to bring their families for Christmas & many of them did.
We started Christmas Eve out with killing & roasting a sheep ... it's a very traditional way to celebrate a big event here (weddings, births, holidays, etc). Biba & her team of helpers cooked all day to have enough food for the 50+ people that would be there. We ate, we sang, we watched the Jesus film & we celebrated the birth of Christ with our Songhai brothers & sisters.
On Christmas morning, we took all the believers & their families to a local church to participate in their Christmas morning services. In America, it seems that we are so quick to get through these kinds of services so that we can get home & be with our families. Here, their families are their church. There was absolutely no hurry that morning. The service "started" at 9 & ended with a meal around 4 pm!
|We all said, "See you later!" to the sheep!|
|Don't ask me why. This is just Mark Phillips & his craziness.|
|For those of you who ever came to our house in Ayorou, you might recognize these 2 girls. We were so glad their brother, who is a believer, brought them in. We had not seen them in over a year!|
|Cephas cooking up a pre-dinner snack for the Songhai team.|
|Everyone lining up at the "HUB" for the Christmas meal|
|The believers' children were so precious! They loved having a big celebration meal & getting their own plate of food!|
|Who knows this guy?!|
|After dinner, Randy brought everyone inside the "HUB" to sing some songs & watch the "Jesus" film.|
|Of course, he had 2 little helpers to lead the music!|
|And I got to hold Ibrahim's baby all night long!|
|Izzy was SO happy to be back with her best friend Nafissa!|
|Christmas morning at church ... the kids row!|