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Advent 2023 newsletter

 

Kyle Johnson, Tanzania

Collin, Anna, Charlotte and Josephine

The French writer Paul Valéry once defined war as “a massacre of people who don’t know each other for the profit of people who know each other but don’t massacre each other.” As someone who has been to war in two different countries, one of them under completely false pretenses, I think this definition seems more true each year.

Johnson family

The Johnson family at home in Mwanza

As we celebrate this season of Advent, which of course is anticipatory and hopeful of the beautiful celebration to come, it is impossible not to be conscious of the shadow of war that looms large in our world today.

Sitting down to reflect on our first year of mission in Tanzania, I am confronted by the everyday joy and sadness that mission brings. Joy because of the beautiful simplicity that comes with serving those in need. Sadness because of the helplessness one feels at the magnitude of problems that are mostly symptoms of unjust socio-economic systems. There is no doubt that much of the violence occurring in the world today is the result of such systems.

On Christmas Eve, 1914, the guns along the Western Front in Europe were quieted as German soldiers began singing Stille Nacht (Silent Night). Soon the French and English sides were singing too. A spontaneous truce occurred, and in addition to giving up trying to kill each other for a moment (at least at this particular part of the battlefield), the troops from both sides met in no man’s land as brothers and exchanged small gifts and pleasantries. The event was dramatically depicted in the movie Joyeux Noel.

In reality, the Christmas truce was kept under wraps by the governments and military brass on both sides. They didn’t want a mutiny to occur and to suddenly have each side stop fighting each other. It was through letters that soldiers sent home to their families that people found out about what had happened. The story inspired the world as it became popularized in newspapers and magazines.

Despite the many systemic challenges facing our planet, I remain hopeful and optimistic. It is because I have seen what happens when good people come together for a just cause. Extreme poverty, war and violent conflict are NOT inevitable, and even trench warfare can be halted through God’s shared grace.

As Christmas approaches, let us embrace our collective hope and gratitude for the triumph of light over darkness. After all, the only true darkness is the absence of light in the first place.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas,
and we thank you for supporting our family’s work in Africa.


 

So this is Christmas

By John Lennon and Yoko Ono

So this is Christmas,
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun.

And so this is Christmas,
I hope you have fun,
The near and the dear one,
The old and the young.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.

And so this is Christmas,
For weak and for strong,
For rich and the poor ones,
The world is so wrong.

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white,
For yellow and red ones.
Let’s stop all the fight.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.

And so this is Christmas,
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun.

And so this is Christmas,
I hope you have fun,
The near and the dear one,
The old and the young.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.

War is over over
If you want it.
War is over
Now.


Please consider supporting our family’s mission work in Tanzania with a donation through the link below.

We invite you to walk with us as our “COMPANIONS IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 

 

Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson provides entrepreneurial training to vulnerable populations as well as leadership and management training to two rural Catholic hospitals. He and his wife, Anna, and their three children, are based in Mwanza, Tanzania.