by Bucky Rogers
Founder of Benjamin House Ministries
The other day I had myself a good old-fashioned pity party. We were setting up the stage for our annual Ignite Band Christmas Rockstravaganza (a Christmas worship service that I and our worship band do each year). This year, my youngest son Brennan was going to be singing a verse and chorus of “Where are you Christmas?”. You know it. The song’s chorus says, “My world is changing, I’m rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too?” Brennan did so good as he practiced it for the first time with the microphone. No nervousness at all. I knelt there beside him, holding the microphone, and sort of zoned out thinking, “I wonder if he has any idea how true the words he’s singing really are? Does he realize just how much it will change? Am I a bad father for making choices that will drastically affect his life forever?” And thus commenced the pity party.
We are moving to Uganda, Africa. I’ve spent months telling our story, trying to raise funds, trying my best to not worry about our funding and to just trust God with our future, thinking about the details of forming a non-profit, assessing the needs in Uganda, preparing my team for action once we hit the ground in March, and studying Ugandan culture and the orphan care situation there until I couldn’t see straight. I prepared my heart and mind for nearly every change that we have coming, and have been trying to prepare my kids for those as well. But there was something about this simple line from a simple song that destroyed me that day.
Growing up, Christmas was magical. No matter what actually happened in the busyness and bustle of that day, no matter the fact that I grew up in a divorced family and we traveled all over the place from spot to spot to see relatives, it was always my absolute favorite day of the year. The anticipation was always so sweet and it always reminded me just how much I was loved. And, I guess that’s what hit me. Next Christmas, while most people back home are enjoying snuggling up by the fire on a cold Christmas Eve, we’ll be opening our windows to try to get a breeze. While dads are tucking in their kids snugly under their quilts, warm in their pajamas, daring them to come out of their rooms, I will be tucking in the mosquito nets around our kids’ beds and praying them off to sleep. While families make plans to drive around to see Christmas light shows and church musicals, we will enjoy having our neighborhood kids over for dinner in a dimly lit room. While kids back home gather together with family, getting big sloppy kisses from grandma and being tickled by grandpa, my kids will skype with their grandparents to tell them Merry Christmas and kiss a computer screen as they say goodbye. Christmas indeed changes too.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten weepy! I used to never cry. I don’t think I cried more than 10 times between the ages of 15 and 25. I’ve cried more in the past 48 hours than I did those 10 years! And so, as I thought of all these things, I started wondering if I’m somehow shorting my kids. Will they blame me in the years to come for taking them away from comfort, family, friends, and all the things they’ve come to know? Am I being selfish in taking them halfway across the world to chase after this dream I believe the Lord has given me? And while I’m at it: Of all the people in the world that are far more capable than me of doing this task, why did the Lord choose us? We have nothing to offer. I’ve never done this before. Gracious. I have spent the last 6 months talking to congregation after congregation about how God had brought us to a place of complete trust…and He had…but at this moment I was overwhelmed and couldn’t seem to get it together.
Then Joseph came to mind. I would never presume to place myself in the same category as a man like Joseph, but I do wonder if he ever had times of doubt like this. What am I doing? How does a mere man raise the son of God? Is there not someone else who is in a better position for this task? What will this mean for my future…for our other children one day? I wonder, as they fled to Egypt, if he ever questioned whether he was a good enough, strong enough father, and if he would be able to deal with what his future would hold. Did Abraham think about leaving his home/friends/extended family when the Lord told him to go to a land he did not know? Was Noah apprehensive about starting over with just his wife and kids? Did Peter, James, and John ever doubt that what they had experienced was real…real enough to go across the known world and make it known? Would Paul have still gone on his great missionary journeys and propelled the church into the world if he had allowed the thought of change to overcome his mind? Again, I’m no Abraham or Peter, but because I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, I should…Lord willing, I will…throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles(like doubt), and run the race that has been marked out for me.
My kids’ Christmases will be different. Their world is changing. They’re rearranging. And that means Christmas changes too. I want them to love their family, and long for time with their grandparents. I wish we could enjoy all the things each Christmas that we’ll be leaving behind. I wish they could have more than memories of those things. But more than that, I want them to know that when God calls, no matter what the call, answering that call is more important than anything else in the world. Christmas is still about God coming to the desperate and alone…and that part of Christmas will never change.
Most people aren’t called to move their family to a third world country. For them to do so would be wrong. But we are. We aren’t any better or more spiritual, in fact I can name about 50 people off the top of my head right now that I think the Lord should have called instead of me J. And so, we go. And although you don’t go with us, in a way you do. You are every bit as much a part of the Benjamin House story as we are. As you pray for us and the families we will restore, you become a part of their family. As you sacrificially give to allow us to be on the front lines of this dramatic shift in the orphan care system of a nation, every bite of food we take, mile we drive, person we meet, father we train, mother we give a job skill to, lost person who is adopted by Jesus, child who receives AIDS treatment for the first time, teenage mother we love, teenage pregnancy we help keep from ever happening…all of it…you ARE Benjamin House.
Your giving, particularly at year end, is critical to our family and ministry. As I’ve said before, I hate asking people for things. But, this task is too big for us to do alone. We need you. You can send your tax deductible contribution to Benjamin House Ministries PO BOX 21, MOORE SC 29369, or give online at www.BenjaminHouse.net Contact us through the website if you would be open to us speaking to your civic group, church, small group, etc. between now and when we fly out on March 8th.
May God bless your family this Christmas.
Benjamin House staff, short-term missionaries, and our founders