Last year Stan and Brad’s mother, Gladys Graber shared her memories of Christmas in Congo. It was so well received, we’re repeating it this year. We’re adding some photos we didn’t have access to last year. The black and white photos are from celebrations in the 1950-60s. The color photos were taken more recently.
Christmas in Congo
by Gladys Graber
Suppose you could spend Christmas in the Republic of Congo, Africa. You could leave your mittens, caps, boots, and coats at home. No chance of a white Christmas.
You would avoid the many weeks of preparation, the busy streets, and all the glitter of the season.
On Christmas morning people marching through the mission compound blowing goat horns, singing, and shouting, would awaken you before dawn. Later festively dressed people would gather at the church for worship, coming in clans and being led by their chiefs. People would bring an offering of produce or money carefully folded into a handcrafted envelope.
A program at the church is planned for the evening as people come bringing kerosene lanterns to light the church. Talented young people enact the tableau of the manger scene. Not-so-quiet goats complicate the scene.
Most dramatic are the wise men who enter at the rear of the church and slowly make their way to the front all the while looking overhead where a large star is moved forward on a wire strung along the rafters. It takes a long time for these searching wise men to reach the manger.
Gift giving is not a part of the day, but one year our family gave a dinner for the Bible Institute students the day before Christmas. Gift boxes were given to each family. Among other items there were simple, small purses intended for the women and t-shirts intended for the children.
On Christmas morning we noticed that some “re-gifting” had taken place: The men had the purses and the women were wearing the t-shirts.
Missionaries appreciated the wild poinsettias for decorating as well as some small berries that could be gathered in the forest that were a good substitute for cranberries.
The most important part of your Christmas in the Congo would be to see the difference the Gospel message has made in so many lives.
They understand the love of God in sending His only begotten son to be the Savior to all who put their trust in Him.
Please continue to pray for peace in Congo. May all the leaders reach a wise resolution to their conflict. May they lean on God’s wisdom to direct them.
We wish our Congolese brothers and sisters a joyous peaceful Merry Christmas. We wish the same for each of you.