A Jesus-Focused Christmas party in a little village named “Kosele”
I spoke with Charles Juma (Reach Out’s Africa Continent Director) on December 12 as he was preparing to host what sounded like a spectacular Christmas party in the town of Kosele in Kenya. We were talking on a Monday, and the party was to take place on the following Sunday. I could tell he was thrilled, as he mentioned the 50 churches that had committed to providing follow up for this extraordinary event. The day would include singing, preaching, feeding the people, and handing out Christmas presents to the kids. Covid had placed this party on hiatus for the last two years. But, as Charles put it, “Our people need to hear the Christmas story again. Our government needs to see that doing good was a mission given to the church before it was given to anyone else…and that we do good because we love Jesus.” 
Charles Juma
If you know Charles, then you know it is always first and foremost about Jesus! Charles has devoted his life to seeing the younger generation discover Jesus. Charles prayed over this occasion with the beliefs that 3,000 would attend this party, and many would say “yes” to Jesus as Savior for the very first time. And so, Charles and I prayed together that morning…and our Reach Out staff, board of directors, and many other friends of Reach Out prayed that week for Charles and his planning team (many of whom were Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry-trained pastors and youth leaders). We also prayed for all the guests who would be attending. Hearing Charles speak about what he believed God was calling him to do reminded me of another large crowd that was fed…both physically and spiritually…
In John 6, Jesus fed the 5,000 with five barley loaves and two fish. After the event, He developed quite a following in that area. As we all know, instant, free food draws a crowd! The scriptures tell us that Jesus withdrew to the mountains and His disciples climbed into their boats. The next day, the crowd started to hunt for Jesus again…

John 6 (NIV 84)
[25] When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Then Jesus clarified their motive…
John 6:26-31
[26] Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
[27] Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
Jesus wasn’t talking about the difference between canned Spam and deli meat here. He said that there are two kinds of hunger…two kinds of food. Jesus’ point? These people were more interested in satisfying their stomachs than their hearts. Their concerns were not about eternity, but about the immediacy of this life.

But what about us? Don’t we allow life to push out the eternal? Our lives get filled up with so much so fast…go to work, study, clean the house, chauffeur kids to sports practices and games, scroll endlessly through social media…the list goes on and on and on…and then we go to bed exhausted, wake up, and start all over again. Been there? And the next week rolls around, and we attend church, and we think, “Wow, last Sunday I had such great intentions for the week…to read more and pray more, and be more intentional with my kids' spiritual lives, and reach out to my neighbor that I know doesn’t know Jesus…,” but then we allow the immediacy of life to push out what eternally matters. I can relate, can you? 
Back to the story…
[28] Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
Stop here…they missed the point. They thought Jesus must have meant they needed to add more stuff to their ever-expanding list of things they thought they had to DO to win God’s favor. Has your to-do list increased since the beginning of the new year?
[29] Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
What an amazing answer! He tells them that it’s not about DOING MORE STUFF, but believing in HIM. It’s about the relationship…not about creating some sort of works-based religion. 
[30] So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?
[31] Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
[32] Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
[33] For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Jesus was helping them stay away from revisionist history here! He reminded them that GOD was the one who fed the people, not Moses. And that the bread they were missing was really a bread that they could have NOW…because it was bread shaped in the form of HIM. He was slowly revealing to them that HE is the Messiah, but the crowd still misunderstood…thinking he was speaking materialistically or physiologically, not spiritually.
[34] "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."
They wanted Jesus to give them the magic toast. They were happy to try the supernatural sourdough if it would really satisfy them longer than the five loaves and two fish did.
John 6:35-39
[35] Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
[36] But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
[37] All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
[38] For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
[39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 
[40] For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Jesus extended the offer of salvation to them…just as He does to us today. You want to live forever? You go through Jesus. And He says to each of us that He will make good on His promise to redeem our lives, both in this world and the world to come.
THAT is why JESUS is at the very center of the paradigm that we teach church leaders, pastors, and students all over the world. We call it “Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry.” Our lives and ministries and churches MUST be focused on HIM. 
Jesus Himself said, "The work of God is this: 
to believe in the one he has sent." 
You see, the focus isn’t about a denomination, or a certain church, or a specific teaching. The people of God may be engaged in a variety of “good works,” but as Charles said to me on the phone that day, “we do good because we love Jesus!” The focus is and must always be…Jesus.

Meanwhile, in Kosele...
And, so, on Sunday, December 18, with a focus on Jesus, the party was thrown. And 3,000 people (predominantly widows and orphans) did show up at the Kosele village Christmas party! And there was singing and dancing, stomachs were filled, presents were handed out, AND over 200 people gave their hearts to Jesus that day…in a little village named Kosele, that threw one massive Jesus-Focused party! 
The children were filled...
...and received the love of Jesus
...running to learn more about Him
We are so grateful for all of our Reach Out leaders in Kenya
So many were blessed by Pastors Christopher and Joseph's message
And God brought all of the people, an answer to Charles following God's leading
…to those who prayerfully and financially contributed to our end-of-year giving…the strongest finish since December 2020! 
…we are excited to announce two new Reach Out team members: Ed Upton and Eric Vaughan. Both men are working with us in the area of development. Next month, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know both guys a little better in our February newsletter.
Will you prayerfully consider contributing to Reach Out so we can continue God's vision of this ministry in 2023?

We also invite you to pray with us as you look through the Praise+Prayer list for January, and partner with us to see God's hand through all of our Reach Out leaders around the world.
Jesus is Lord,
Randy Riggins, President
Reach Out Youth Solutions