Wide-eyed Me: I’m gonna write a family Christmas letter.
Jersey-smirk Me: Are you kidding me? People hate them!
Wide-eyed Me: But the one that I write won’t be cheesy.
Jersey-smirk Me: What from all of your past makes you think that what you write won’t be cheesy?
Wide-eyed Me: You can’t spoil this, you know I always win.
Jersey-smirk Me: Unbelievable…peace out.
(Jersey-smirk Me rolls his eyes while Wide-eyed Me begins humming “It’s the hap-happiest time of the year.”)
Here’s hoping that the wide-eyed within you wins this Christmas! I am looking at the Gospel story within the Christmas narrative with new innocence and wonder. Just this morning, I marveled at the manger scene and worshiped with the lyrics to “What Child Is This.” Nestled right in the 3rd verse is a stand up and shout miracle: “the virgin sings her lullaby.” This was no ordinary child! This, this is Christ the King and loving hearts continue to enthrone Him all over the planet. While we find ourselves somewhere between hopes and fears, let me remind you of this absolute truth: The Gospel wins!
Tania and I are so thankful for the events of 2015. Our 2nd grandchild, Naima Grace, was born to proud parents Zachary and Meghan. She is a delight, and when she smiles the whole room lights up! We continue to lead The Malachi Network, a growing movement of church planters and missionaries. We now have over 50 singles and families within this ministry. We heard the Lord invite us to not only focus internationally, but locally as missionaries ourselves. So we started PRAY South Jersey in May, held our 2nd outreach through Avalon Beach Church for 12 Sundays this past summer, and moved our house church into a beautiful building, launching Simply Church in September. We have also hosted about 20 of our network families in our home for short stays over the last couple of years. Life is full and we are thankful! We continue to trust the Lord by raising our support to lead missionaries and live as missionaries. We would be honored if you would consider sowing into our ministry. There is more info at the bottom of this letter.
Zachary, Meghan and Naima Grace (6 mo) live here in South Jersey and serve Jesus faithfully through the Malachi Network. They provide leadership in Avalon Beach Church, the South Jersey House of Prayer and Carll’s Corner Community Fellowship. They are a new breed of bi-vocational church leader. They raise support (there’s more info at the end of the letter), Zach works in the market-place and Meghan is divinely suited to be a great mother. Zach and Meghan both carry the values of worship, mission and prayer in a beautiful way.
Jacob, Lena and Grey (15 mo) now live in Charlotte, NC. Jacob is a Financial Advisor with Larson Financial Group and Securities. Lena is pouring all of her sweetness and teaching ability into their amazing little boy. Grey is brilliant and kind and he loves his Grandad and Granny T! Very thankful that this precious family continues to serve Jesus in the market-place and their local church. Also very thankful that although they live in NC, they still bleed Kentucky blue when it comes to college basketball!
Jessica and Corrie Emma have both been living and working in Indianapolis, IN. They have excelled in their jobs, but are about to make a major change. Because they care deeply about advancing Christ’s Kingdom, they committed to a 6 month Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission. The first half of the school will take place near us in Ocean City, NJ. They will deepen their understanding of God’s Word while doing hands on ministry within Christian community. The 2nd half of the school will focus on mission and take place in a cross-cultural setting. I could not be more proud of these girls! Their school starts in February, so they are packing up and heading east at Christmas time. They will be running hard trying to raise the support needed for this six-month mission. We would love for you to consider sowing into their lives in response to this letter. There is more info about this at the bottom of this letter.
Well, there we go…our family shares the same hopes and fears that many of you have. We stand in the solid truth that they are all met in Jesus Christ. And we are grounded in the assurance that the Gospel wins!
Have a Very Merry Christmas!
Rich & Tania
Missionary Support Information: You can send support to: The Malachi Network – PO Box 368 – Avalon, NJ 08202. Designate who you would like the gift to go to. You can also support Tania and me or Zach and Meghan online at: www.malachinetwork.org. Go to the Family page and click on our names. You can support Jessica and Corrie online at: http://www.connect.clickandpledge.com/Organization/ywamconverge/Fundraiser/RichStevenson