“The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to … to be manifested according as they could bear it…”
― Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation

Natalie and I lived in Singapore for 6 years where we made friends with several local people. Now we live in the Kansas City area of the U.S., but we visited Singapore again recently, and spent time with some friends. Our friends belong to another faith tradition, and they have a little store. The husband has lung cancer, he was diagnosed in February. When I saw him, he had lost a lot of weight, so I went around behind the counter to give him a big hug.

I noticed behind the counter the couple had taped two pictures. One was a picture of their family; right next to it was a picture of our family. It just kind of blew me away. They are special to us but you don’t always know if others feel the same way about you. We have reached out to them and have tried to be trusted Christian friends so they would know what real Christianity is like.

Natalie and I, realize as Christians we are always on mission, so we look for what we call “a person of peace” — someone who’s not opposed to us or the gospel. Our friends in Singapore extended such friendship to us. We were invited further and further into the relationship and we continued offering prayer and conversation.

At one point they had a need. Her mother was very sick in the hospital and Natalie offered to go visit and pray with her and they allowed that. In time, Natalie was invited to be part of her daughter’s wedding. She actually had Natalie do what the mother of the bride would normally have her sister do: help get the bride ready and spend the whole wedding day with her.

Our friends haven’t yet come to faith. We’ve tried to give them that opportunity. We lived our lives as the incarnation of Jesus Christ among them, just as Jesus was the incarnation of God among humankind when he was born into the form of a helpless human baby at Christmas, more than 2,000 years ago.

Incarnation is the intent of every missionary. The Church of the Nazarene sent out 119 missionaries in 2015, for a total of 702 missionaries sent by the denomination to be the hands and feet of Jesus, the Messiah, around the world.

But the world is home to more than 7 billion people. It is not enough for 706 missionaries to be living incarnations of Jesus. It is God’s plan for every believer, every Christian, to be the vessel for Jesus, who is the hope of the world, the light and life, to transform lives in our cities, villages and towns, neighborhoods and families.

Thank you for being a trusted Christian friend as the incarnation of Christ in the world around you! We rejoice with you in this New Year that Jesus is our Savior and Emmanuel. May we remember and live that out each day until we again gather with family and friends for Christmas in December 2016.

Verne Ward
Global Mission
Church of the Nazarene