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2003 Conversations

Joy Williams: Rooted in Grace (December 29, 2002)

Judy Rachels: Christmas gifts (December 22, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael: New music for a timeless message (December 15, 2002)

Roger and Greg Flessing: Media, ministry and society's ungodly messages (December 8, 2002)

Rick Salvato: Meeting medical and spiritual needs around the world (November 24, 2002)

Asa Hutchinson: Drug Enforcement's top officer (November 17, 2002)

Bill Bright: 'Not I, but Christ' (November 10, 2002)

Ray Berryhill: Living by faith (October 20, 2002)

Owen C. Carr: Reading through the Bible 92 times (October 13, 2002)

Curtis Harlow: Combating campus drinking (September 29, 2002)

Wes Bartel: Making Sunday count (September 22, 2002)

M. Wayne Benson: The Holy Spirit knocks (September 15, 2002)

Dr. Richard Dobbins: Understanding Suffering (September 8, 2002)

K.R. Mele: Halloween evangelism (August 25, 2002)

Roland Blount: God makes a way for blind missionary (August 18, 2002)

Cal Thomas: Finding a mission field (August 11, 2002)

Lisa Ryan: For such a time as this (July 28, 2002)

Dallas Holm: Faith and prayer in life’s toughest times (July 21, 2002)

Paul Drost: Intentional church planting (July 14, 2002)

James M. Inhofe: Serving Christ in the Senate (June 30, 2002)

Karen Kingsbury: The Write stuff (June 23, 2002)

Michael W. Smith: Worship is how you live each day (June 16, 2002)

Wayne Stayskal: On the drawing board (June 9, 2002)

Fory VandenEinde: Anyone can minister (May 26, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask: Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2002)

Stormie Omartian: Recovering from an abusive childhood (May 12, 2002)

Luis Carrera: Beyond the Shame (April 28, 2002)

Tom Greene: The church of today (April 21, 2002)

Philip Bongiorno: Wisdom for a younger generation (April 14, 2002)

Deborah M. Gill: Christian education and discipleship (March 24, 2002)

Norma Champion: Becoming involved in politics (February 24, 2002)

Steve Pike: A candid discussion about Mormonism (February 10, 2002)

Raymond Berry: More to life than football (January 27, 2002)

Sanctity of Human Life roundtable: Doctors speak out (January 20, 2002)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: Ministering in the military (January 13, 2002)

2001 Conversations


Christmas gifts

(December 22, 2002)

Judy Rachels has ministered with her husband, T. Ray Rachels, for more than 35 years. She now serves as Women’s Ministries director for the Southern California District, where her husband is superintendent. Judy recently spoke with Scott Harrup, associate editor, about the meaning of Christmas.

PE: What does Christmas mean to you as a believer?

RACHELS: God forever made it possible for me to be in His family. He came to my rescue as God in the flesh.

PE: When did you discover that to be true in your life?

RACHELS: I grew up in a pastor’s home, so it discovered me before I knew I had discovered it. I was receiving and processing that message when I was just 3 and 4. By the time I was 5 and 6, I was going forward at revival services to give my life to Christ. The celebration of Christmas was always a highlight of the year in our family. Annually, we donned bedroom slippers and bathrobes as costumes to retell the Nativity story in our churches. As simple and unsophisticated as that sounds, it was extremely meaningful to those who participated and observed. I remember being a part of the heavenly hosts a few times, and besides the tinsel making my head itch, there was something wonderful about proclaiming Jesus’ birth.

PE: What was Christmas like during your early ministry?

RACHELS: We began as youth pastors. Probably one of the most blessed Christmases women know is their first one with their husbands. It was a very profound thought for me, that I was now a wife and that I stood on the edge of having a family and sharing with them those truths I had received, embraced and lived by.

PE: Was there ever a Christmas that brought you renewed hope during a dark time?

RACHELS: One of our children was really struggling. It was a difficult time for all of us. That year we received a gift from a lady who attended the first church we had pastored 15 years earlier. She had given us modest gifts over the years, and this one came with a note that said, “I think you’re going to like this one, Pastor.” It was a cassette tape. When we played it, we discovered it was an old tape of Ray preaching in his office. This lady had asked him to tape a sermon so she could use it in hospitals and nursing homes. As we listened, we heard something in the background. It was the voice of our 2-year-old, who was softly singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Dad had drawn baby-sitting duties while I was teaching school. We needed to hear our child sing that song on that Christmas Day. The Holy Spirit spoke peace to our hearts, reminding us that the truth taught and lived out would yield a good harvest. Sure enough, the day came when that child acted on the truth of God’s love.

PE: How would you share Christmas with me if I had no understanding of its deeper meaning?

RACHELS: In 1945 my dad was in combat in the Philippines and we had gone weeks without hearing from him. Christmas came and my mother was the absolute picture of peace. She would tell me the Christmas story at night and she would say, “There’s always hope. There’s always peace. That is settled in our hearts and this is the day we celebrate that it can be settled.” We believe that God loved us so much that He would take care of us, not only in this life but in the future. His grace was born on Christmas. His gift of peace was born that day. And it was a peace we could hold on to in wartime, when we did not know what the mail would bring. It’s been something to hold on to all of these years.

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