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Strangers bearing gifts

Marilee Pierce Dunker
Nov 27, 2012
Courtesy World Vision Romania
Marilee Pierce Dunker in Romania.

What would Christmas be without the traditional nativity scene? The manger bathed in starlight, Mary and Joseph staring lovingly at the baby Jesus, shepherds kneeling in worship, and the three wise men offering their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In truth, however, the Bible tells us that the wise men weren’t there that fateful night. While they began following the astrological signs as soon as Jesus was born, they didn’t actually find the newborn King of the Jews until he was nearly two years old. By that time Mary and Joseph were living quietly in a house in Bethlehem, trying to keep up with an active toddler.

They were unaware that for two years God had been sending them a much-needed provision that would be delivered unexpectedly by strangers bearing gifts.

The scene the Bible paints for us in Matthew 2:11 is a moving one.

"(The magi) came into the house, saw the child with Mary his mother and fell down to worship him.” After all the years of studying the Scriptures, searching the heavens, and plodding across deserts on camels, these learned men literally fell down when they recognized the One for whom they had searched. “And opening their treasures, they presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

These were not just any gifts. The magi felt compelled to travel countless miles to give the best of what they had to a child they believed would one day be a great king.

What they did not know was that their generous gifts were part of God’s plan and provision to ensure that the child they honored would survive to become the King of Kings and Savior of the world.

The Scriptures go on to tell us that after the magi’s visit, an angel tells Joseph to flee to Egypt because King Herod is seeking to kill the boy. The young father’s first response must have been panic.

How would they survive as refugees in a strange new land? But God had already made provision. The gifts of the magi were valuable enough to ensure that the family would have all they needed until it was safe to return home.

Like the wise men, we may never know the full story of hope we have helped to write. But we can be confident that our gifts are part of God’s plan and provision for the children we serve.

At a dinner recently I was introduced to the Rev. Sung Gil Kim, a pastor from South Korea. He told me about his four children and nine grandchildren. He shared that he had graduated from university with honors, served as president of a seminary, and now pastors a church with more than 4,000 members.

Then he said, “I tell you this not to impress you, but because when I was 6-years-old I was an orphan on the streets of Seoul. I would have died there. But someone from World Vision found me. My family and I would not be alive today if it had not been for God’s provision through World Vision.”

As we celebrate Christ’s birth and begin a new year, we thank God for all the Sung Gil Kims who are alive today because “someone from World Vision found them.”

We rejoice over the millions of children who will grow up to fulfill their destiny because strangers from afar cared enough to give. Just as the wise men are a lasting part of Jesus’ story, you are a lasting part of your sponsored child’s story, too.

Marilee serves World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like him, she travels the world, witnessing and fulfilling God’s mandate to care for the poor. Request Marilee to speak.
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