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Behind-the-scenes with Brave: What Does Christmas Mean?

The team behind Brave.is share their Christmas memories

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How do you plan on celebrating Christmas this year?

Daniel Chua (Founder): Joy and I will be hosting a few celebrations at home with friends and family. Our church also has a missional initiative called “Every Home Prepare Him Room” where we are encouraged to have around-the-table conversations about Jesus and Christmas with pre-believing friends. In addition, we hope to share the joy of Christmas with the foreign workers who are upgrading the elevators in our housing estate.

David Tan (Managing Director): We have Christmas Eve dinner lined up with our neighbors, and Christmas Day meals with family. Jade and I are also participating in the initiative that Daniel just mentioned, to host friends or family as a means of being intentional in sharing God’s love. I am hoping for these meals we have planned to lead towards meaningful and life impacting conversations.

We are also planning a video call on Christmas morning with my in-laws who are in Brisbane, Australia. I thought it’d be fun for our children to open the delivered presents from their uncles and grandparents “live”!

“This season is also a reminder that He is coming again the second time as promised.” -Daniel Chua

Cameron Walcott (Editor-in-Chief): We’ll be doing a number of things to celebrate Christmas this season. The church I pastor had a special caroling outreach to a local nursing home, and also will be giving gifts away during our last service before Christmas. We will also be doing a special online-only service on Christmas Eve.

As for family, my wife’s aunt is flying in from Singapore, so that will be a real highlight. On Christmas day itself, we’ll gather with our extended family for food, fun, and presents. I also look forward to the moments we have every year, usually on Christmas Eve, where Delia and I gather the kids around to discuss the birth of Jesus and sing worship songs to Him.

Yen Cabag (Senior Writer): As a family, we normally take a couple weeks off of work to reflect during the Christmas holidays, with a 2-3 day trip out of town. We then have a special home-cooked family dinner on Christmas Eve, where we also exchange gifts. This year we may still take a staycation, but somewhere closer because of the pandemic restrictions.

In 4 sentences or less, what is the message of Christmas to you?

Daniel: To me, Christmas is an invitation to experience the newness of life made possible by the first coming of Jesus Christ. This season is also a reminder that He is coming again the second time as promised. He came as a baby in swaddling clothes two thousand years ago; He is coming again as a Conquering King, in the not-too-distant future.

David: I like how the Church has adopted a message of remembering the gift of Jesus, coming from heaven to earth to save us from our sinful state. I also enjoy the associations that people have with the season towards family, relationships, generosity and community.

In a nutshell, Christmas to me is about celebrating both Christ our Savior, and who we are as loved sons and daughters. We are placed in a biological and spiritual family, a community, with love towards all.

“God became man, so that man can become like God and be with Him.” -Cameron Walcott

Cameron: The message of Christmas is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus did not wait for man to be good enough or smart enough or worthy enough to reach Him, but through the Incarnation He reached down to be with us. The Lord of heaven and earth become a baby, born in a humble manger because of His love for humanity.

God became man, so that man can become like God and be with Him.

Yen: I think Christmas has always been a time of reflection for me, of looking back and looking forward, and an opportunity to bless other people with gifts or with words of affirmation. It’s also towards the end of the year that Mark and I look into our Focused Life plans for the next year.

What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

Daniel: It was a Christmas skit I watched when I was in Secondary One. In the presentation, the senior class sang the song “We are the Reason,” and it touched me deeply. I was 13 years old and wasn’t a Christ-follower then, but the Holy Spirit used the lyrics in the song to sow the seed of salvation in my heart. “As little children we would dream of Christmas morn, and all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find; but we never realized a baby born one blessed night gave us the greatest gift of our lives…”

David: As a kid growing up, I remember going to sleep extremely excited every Christmas Eve, knowing all the presents sitting under the Christmas tree that I would get to open. The rush from waking up and actually opening all those presents on Christmas morning with my parents and brothers is always a fond memory.

Cameron: This a hard question – how do I pick just one? Many of my memories run together as well – I think of Christmases as a child, I think of trips to the state of Indiana to visit my Mom’s large family with cousins and tasty treats all around, I think of all the celebrations we had with Delia’s family in Singapore, and I think of how ever since we’ve had children we’ve had a tradition of “opening” Christmas. Once the tree is set up and the lights are turned on, the kids and Delia gather around and I declare Christmas season to be “open” in the Walcott home, and we sing Christmas carols.

Cameron “opening Christmas” with his wife Delia and children, Michigan, USA, 2016

 

But if I have to choose one (and I do, since I actually wrote the questions!), I’m going to go way back to a time when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My Dad’s family had a cabin in northern Michigan, and his whole extended family met there to celebrate that year. Well, there happened to be a giant snowstorm, which made the five-hour trip turn into a treacherous adventure. If I was the one who had to drive on this journey, I may not remember it so fondly! But when we finally got to the house, we were all kind of “snowed in” together and spent the day sledding down the hill on the freshly fallen snow. It’s one of my earliest memories, and I’ll never forget the day we spent with the family.

Yen: My favorite Christmas memory was a couple of years ago. I found my favorite Christmas album, from when I was younger, available for free online! My dad had bought this album (in cassette tape) from Korean missionaries back when I was in first or second grade, and the songs were very near to my heart, playing and singing them every year at Christmas time.

But because the album was on cassette tape, eventually I couldn’t play it anymore. Many years passed with me searching for it, but because it wasn’t by any mainstream artist or band, I couldn’t find it and thought it just wasn’t online. At the start of the Christmas holidays a couple of years ago, an accidental search turned up one of the songs, and I was able to find the entire album, exactly as I remembered it!

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken during the Christmas season?

Daniel: I am constantly challenged by the words of Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” I think every Christmas season presents us the opportunity to take stock of our lives and determine what are the lessons we have learned that we should bring into the new year, and what do we need to learn going forward.

Hence two years ago, I made the decision to reset my learning curve and go back to school and prepare myself for my next assignment, which I believe will require me to earn a postgraduate degree.

David: Well, 3 years ago, my wife Jade and I felt that God was leading us to relocate from our meaningful lives in Australia, to Singapore. It was a fresh start and we did not have any concrete plans lined up when considering the decision.

That year, we landed in Singapore with 2 young children in tow, just in time for Christmas. Looking back, that was the start of a new season, which also led me to being a part of Brave!

Cameron: My first Christmas in a foreign nation came in the year 2001, when I had moved to India full-time as a missionary. This was a pretty big step to take, and Christmas came after I’d been there for just about 3 months. I’ll never forget the celebration we had with the children who lived in our orphanages, celebrating the birth of Jesus with special food, songs, and performances. Spending Christmas halfway around the world was a pretty big risk and change for a 23-year-old young man who loved his family and his hometown, but I cherished the opportunity to minister to the local people and share the love of Jesus with them during this season.

Yen: I just realized that two of the times we said yes to fostering children – including our first time – was during the Christmas season! Both times were related to a church Christmas party at an orphanage, which helped us see a glimpse of how the children grow up there, contrasted with the Lord’s original design of placing children in families. Both times a dream we had also came into play, which the Lord used to confirm our decision.

From all of us at Brave.is, we would like to wish you and your loved ones a very blessed advent season. Be inspired and live fearlessly this Christmas!