Joy to the world, indeed, for the Lord has come…and He has come as a child.When Jesus later directed His followers to “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Mt. 19:14), He did so knowing what it was to be a child in this world. The Eternal One came into time, and had His own mixed past, present, and future experiences.
[F]or it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself…
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
As we celebrate Christmas with those we serve at Araminta, Charles Dickens’beloved Christmas novella is close to my heart. I am reminded that Dickens himself was a victim of trafficking, forced to labor as a child to pay off his parents’ debt. He stated that he never lost memory of the “sense of being utterly neglected and hopeless.”
Surviving this hardship, he used the power of his pen to stand on behalf of marginalized children with his compelling writing. Regardless of his Christmases Past, the beauty of Dickens’ message lies in the hope of Christmas Present and Future.
On Sunday, we sat surrounded by the joyful sounds of laughter and exclamations of glee at Christmas wishes fulfilled. We observed sweet moments of tenderness and words of affirmation exchanged between mentors and mentees and among survivors.
One survivor encouraged a younger girl, “You can do this. When it’s hard, remember you can make it. I’m here for you. We all are.”
Our first Araminta Christmas party for the survivors in our mentor program, creating community, family, and a place of belonging, is a hope fulfilled in this Christmas present.
However, this Christmas Present still echoes of Christmases Past.
“I don’t know how to celebrate Christmas.”
Words of a survivor haunted by Christmases past. Christmases stolen.
Through tears of vulnerability, she shared how hard the holidays are, bringing painful memories of years shuffled through the foster care system without family, wishes never coming true, and enduring abuse at the hands of a trafficker who promised her the family she so desired.
But this Christmas, she learns to celebrate, surrounded by her mentor and Araminta volunteers, who are helping her establish new traditions. She celebrates this Christmas Present, as she understands His presence.
As I grieve for their Christmases Past, knowing too well it is the present Christmas of too many children, I dream of a Christmas future. A Christmas morning in the not-so-distant future, when children will awaken to a Christmas morning in their Araminta group home. A home where family, hope, joy, and peace are their Christmas Present.
Thank you for being a part of the Araminta family,
and during this Christmas and all future ones to come,
may He “fill you with all joy and peace.” (Ro. 15:13)