A letter from Tim Wheeler in Honduras
In Luke 2:8-10 we are told the following: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
The story of the birth of Jesus is the good news that we wait all year to hear. It heals us from the difficulties of this world and reconfirms the values and beliefs that we hold close. Yes, there is a better way, we are told. This is the spirit that we carry into the New Year. The message that we should not be afraid from Luke is important to us today. Yes, there is relief for us from the pressures, inequalities and present-day difficulties at hand if only we will believe and change. We are asked to have a new way of thinking and being. That is the catch, we need to change and we need to actively bring this good news to others so that they can enjoy this newness about the way of being.
With the birth of Jesus there is born a concept in us of peace and hope as well as the construction of the Kingdom of God. This peace, hope and Kingdom well-being is talked about in Micah 6:8: “to do justice and love mercy.” The Hebrew term mishpat is a concept of justice based on action, of treating people equitably. Going further, we should think of working toward giving people their rights and opportunities so that they can achieve some type of equality with others.
Certainly, Jesus gave special attention to women, the downtrodden, the poor, the sick, and the outcasts of society. In our society today there are people clamoring for help. In Honduras we are led to the rural villages, the people who do not have land, education, a good job or good health conditions. This past year we have related several stories in our letters about these people we have come into relationship with. We have seen action taking place among people we work with as they organize in small groups and work together on common goals. We have seen the elderly, single mothers and youth become included in this process, helped along by their fellow community participants.
A few days ago when we were talking with people in the community of Cerro Azul in Honduras a young man named Oscar shared with us his thoughts. He said: “When we were living in the mountains even though we were all poor and we are related as families in one way or another, we never felt the same sense of closeness and concern for others as we do today in our new community that we have built together.
"The community that we have built is a life-giving process in which we have been able to build up our self-esteem, hope and skills and develop a community sense of concern for others that we have today.”
These words speak for themselves in terms of the change that is possible for a people when they open themselves up to the challenges of change. People are overcoming fear and obtaining great joy. Yes, this is a healing process taking place with justice based on action, the very concept expressed in Micah and brought about by the sheer will of the people strengthened by their faith. For this we are thankful.
Gloria and I will be going back to Honduras on December 27 to start off the New Year with the many activities and programs that have been planned for 2013. We are sure that there will be many joys and challenges ahead. We are thankful to have been able to visit many churches and friends during our home stay. We are also very blessed to have seen much more of our daughters who are in the U.S. during these months.
This Christmas we want to express our deepest gratitude for your supporting us in our ministry. Progress is being made in making real the hopes and dreams of constructing a new reality for those we are in relationship with. As we remember the birth of Jesus may this spirit be born in us every day and may all things be fresh and new to us again. May you celebrate and enjoy Christmas with loved ones who are close and may this spirit bind you to others far away.
Tim and Gloria Wheeler