"Away" in a Manger? More like "Nearby."

By: Ryan Iafigliola

A few years ago, my church and the Fuller Center learned about the situation of a family with three boys living here in Americus, Georgia. They were living in a double-wide trailer home with roaches infesting the walls, holes in the floor, and in need of a wheelchair ramp for the disabled youngest son. It was no place to raise a boy, let alone three of them.

At Christmas time, we think of another little boy.

But when we re-imagine the story, we can make it seem so, well, cute. There’s the cute little baby Jesus and cute little animals gathered by his side singing Kumbayah with the adorable angels.  So when we read in Luke 2:7 that "she…laid him in a manger," we think, "now isn’t that sweet!"

But it’s not sweet. A manger is no place for a baby boy.

When God came to make his home here with us, through our inaction we declared "no room" in the inn and left Christ himself to be born into poverty housing. After all, what difference does the life of one poor child make? Born in the midst of a census of the entire Roman empire, no doubt Jesus’ birth was declared statistically insignificant.

But we know his life mattered. And so do the lives of those boys here in Americus. So we did major work on their home, eliminated the infestation, closed the holes, beautified the walls and even built them a ramp.

Here’s the fascinating thing: This happened to be a Hispanic family, so can you believe the name of their oldest son? Jesus. No joke. Jesus was living in a place fit for animals, but thanks to the love of Christ expressed through our hands, not anymore.

More recently, two of their cousins moved into the house with them. Jesus, his brothers and his cousins remain an active part of our community. One of their favorite things to do with us is to ride their bikes, and Jesus has told us that someday he would even love to bike across the country with us and help other people on their houses!

How about you? As you celebrate Christmas, what will you do to help bring a world where never again will a little boy have to live in a place only fit for animals?

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