Every time I see my friend Akemi, she pulls out at least four new things she’s sewn since the last time I saw her. Most of the time, it’s more like 14.
So many bags. Small zipper bags made of tiny quilts she hand sewed together. Purses she crocheted. Shoulder bags made from pieces of old jeans. All kinds of coasters. Placemats. All sewn with a lot of detail, many of them with tiny hearts and other designs stitched in that you have to look closely to see.
It’s her life’s work. And I tell her she’s a machine — she never stops. She’s always watching for fabric remnants and salvaging pieces of ribbon from gifts. Nothing is wasted for her.
That’s the way I want my life to be too.
Akemi is from a country where she didn’t know a single follower of Jesus before she moved to this part of the world. So are several more of her classmates in my ESL class every Thursday morning.
They’re so kind. So gifted. So generous. My house is filled up with Akemi’s coasters and a lot of things my ESL friends have brought me. But even more than that, my heart is filled up with the joy and privilege of getting to be their friend. We’ve laughed so much in the past year and a half. That on its own is a gift.
I don’t want to waste any moment of that when it comes to the thing that matters most — I want each of them to have the chance to consider Jesus.
Recently in class I held up a crocheted baby Jesus and told Akemi I needed her to teach me how to make the shepherds that my nativity set is missing. I felt the weight of how much it matters for Akemi and others to know why He came.
Because the world is broken — we feel that in our souls.
But God loved us enough to not leave us broken with no hope of rescue. He sent us a Rescuer, a baby who would grow up to save us from death, darkness and brokenness.
It’s a beautiful story we’re a part of. And not only do they not know it — most of the people they know back home don’t know it either.
It’s something those of us who are familiar with Scripture should never take for granted, though that’s easy for us to do.
Every Christmas Eve, my mom sits in a wingback chair in the living room and pulls out a weathered black leather Bible. And every year, whether there are two or 22 of us present, she reads the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2.
It’s part of the fabric of our family. Sewn in. So beautiful — but so easy to forget that other people haven’t had that opportunity.
So this Christmas, I’m challenged not just to be thankful that I grew up where the gospel was readily available — because I am thankful — but also to remember not to waste anything when it comes to telling those who haven’t heard.
I want to be intentional to make new friends from other cultures.
I want to give sacrificially to missions offerings and pray with more discipline for people who haven’t heard. I hope those things happen in greater supply next year.
Let’s be honest about something that probably won’t happen next year — I’m not going to be able to make those shepherds. They’re going to look bad — really bad.
But Akemi and I will get to talk about them again while she tries to teach me. I pray that every little shred of truth will go toward the fabric of what He’s weaving in her life and that one day she’ll see that the tapestry of His rescue is meant for her.