Singing and Dancing for Christmas 

The LWF World Service Central America team, performing a hymn in the main office in San Salvador. Photo: LWF Central America
The LWF World Service Central America team, performing a hymn in the main office in San Salvador. Photo: LWF Central America

LWF World Service Country programs share message of hope through advent hymns 

(LWI) - Singing and dancing together, despite challenging circumstances: With messages of hope, LWF World Service country programs have contributed to this year's LWF advent hymns campaign. Four country programs record an advent hymn or a Christmas song representing their local context. 

With "Los Pastores de Belen" (The Shepherds of Bethlehem), the Central America program started on a cheerful note. The team in the San Salvador office was wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. Latin America was hard-hit by the first wave and under a strict lockdown for most of the year. A violent hurricane season battered the region in the fall, leaving thousands homeless. The LWF team continued to work with vulnerable communities, returned migrants, and people affected by natural disasters. 

Voices from refugee camps 

The Uganda country program continued with a hymn performed by refugees in Kyangwali settlement in the country's West. The Congolese refugees sang "Thank you, Jesus," a free composition in the Swahili language. The settlement hosts over 30,000 refugees from Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya. LWF supports them with water and sanitation, protection, and livelihood activities. 

The contribution by LWF Kenya-Djibouti-Somalia also came from a refugee camp. Girls from the Angelina Jolie boarding school performed "Joy to the World." The LWF-run school at Kakuma refugee camp offers secondary education to girls in particularly vulnerable circumstances. LWF is the leading implementer of education in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps and 100,000 refugee students learn in schools run by the LWF. 

On Christmas Eve, LWF will share an advent hymn from the Borgop refugee camp in Cameroon. The camp is home to refugees from the Central African Republic, who fled sectarian violence in 2013. Since then, they have established close ties with the host community. The Lutherans among the refugees worship together with a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon (ELCC), an LWF member church. 

Refugees and hosts used to celebrate Christmas together in the church in Borgop village, about 100 meters from the refugee camp.
Philbert HABONIMANA, LWF Country Representative Cameroon

Celebrating Christmas together 

"Refugees and host communities used to celebrate Christmas together in the church in Borgop village, about 100 meters from the refugee camp. Because of the pandemic, they have divided into two groups for church services to respect distancing measures: One group in the refugee camp itself and another group in the village not far from the camp," said Philbert Habonimana, LWF country representative in Cameroon, who with some of his team joined the performance. The song is in Fulfulde, a Peuhl language that is spoken widely in the three regions of Cameroon and by CAR refugees. 

"These hymns are a beautiful addition to the rich and inspiring contributions we have received from the LWF member churches," said Rev Árni Daníelsson, LWF Head of Communication. "They show how the LWF, mandated by its member churches, serves the most vulnerable. At the same time they give a voice to the people we serve. Last, but not least, they remind us that the child, whose coming into the world we await and celebrate, was a refugee himself." 

LWF/C. Kästner