My adolescent years as a missionary kid brought lots of interesting memories, most of which consisted of family, friends and well … church. Doubling as a pastor’s kid, I was involved with every aspect of my parents’ ministry, so naturally most of my memories consist of church activities, special services, plays, youth retreats, and so forth.
One of my Christmas memories …
One of the memories that has stayed with me over the years is the times we spent caroling during the Christmas season. In the United States, caroling is a staple of Christmas celebrations and although not as prominent, it isn’t a new thing to see on the streets, in neighborhoods, restaurants, stores, and public places, but in Chilé it is more like something you see in movies and television. When my parents set out to sing surprise Christmas carols to new members of the church, I was mortified! Being one of the few musicians at our church, I was recruited to play AND sing. I will be honest … I wasn’t a big fan of this at first, but as the years went by, I began to appreciate and embrace this activity. By the third year, it had become something to look forward to with my friends, who were also involved in the worship band with me at church. There was something about the experience of traveling across the busy streets of Santiago, which sometimes took hours, with my friends in the back of a truck, bus, or van, that I still remember to this day. The church members looked forward to this activity each year. It was tradition to allow the new members to join in the caravan of singers to the next house. Each night would begin with a handful, but would eventually end with a group of at least 30 people! With every passing year the group became larger, sometimes splitting into different teams.
Beyond the fun times …
Beyond the fun times was a whole aspect I was not fully aware of until I became a bit older. The reason this tradition stayed alive was because of the positive impact it had on our church. Nearly every family we visited was completely overwhelmed with emotion. By the end of the first song, which was always “O Holy Night,” the family members were in tears. Each visit would eventually end with most of the neighbors listening and applauding after every song. God used this to speak into the lives of new members and their neighbors. To them it wasn’t only a unique surprise, it was a gesture of God’s love … a gesture that showed them they were loved and appreciated not only by their pastors and fellow brothers and sisters, but by Jesus himself who came to this world as a humble child. Naturally, this peaked curiosity among neighbors and relatives to the point that many came to church from that point on.
What is Christmas without Worship?
By the time I left to attend Lee University in 2003, Christmas caroling had become something so special to our family that it became a family tradition. To this day, we make it a goal to sing during the Christmas season wherever we are. This tradition is also alive and well in Chilé among the ministries in which my parents are involved. Every year when I visit, I get to join in the fun! Caroling has become one of those things that helps remind me what the true reason is for the season. What is Christmas without worshipping the newborn King?
The Minay family wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas! May God bless you during this season!
José Minay is Video Editor for World Missions and the son of Career Missionaries Israel and Debbie Minay.