The Great Christmas Coup

By Tanya Boyd (John’s wife, Tanya, is guest blogging today)

Our most memorable Christmas wasn’t what you would consider our “best Christmas ever.” It wasn’t some heart-warming story—yet it was simply unforgettable due to the circumstances and what I learned that year.

Near the end of 1996, John and I were assigned to serve a term with MAF in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). I was nearly nine months pregnant and had our 18-month-old son Stuart in tow. A few weeks before Christmas, amid much fanfare, many friends and supporters gathered with banners and signs at the airport in Cape Town, South Africa to say goodbye and see us off. We were excited about our first missionary assignment.

Then the coup happened.

Instead of spending Christmastime in Zaire and settling into our role with MAF, we were forced to flee the country within days of arriving and ended up back in Cape Town. We arrived weary and in shock. We had lost everything we owned as our exit from the country was swift and sudden. There was no going back to recover anything.

In contrast to our big send-off, there were just a few to greet us at the airport. We were able to find a place to stay, living in the home of a family that had gone away for the holidays. The house had no Christmas decorations up, as the family wasn’t going to be there during the holiday season. It was not the type of Christmas we expected.

Mission Aviation Fellowship President John Boyd with him family, wife TanyaBut that Christmas, I learned about how to be thankful for the most important things in life—and the small things, too. Someone would knock on our door and say, “We heard what happened to you and we wanted to bless you by baking this ham.” Yet another would drop by with presents since they assumed we wouldn’t have any. The Christian community banded together to look after one of its own. It was such a wonderful picture to me of how God always provides what you need.

As I reflected on what was happening in my life at that time and how this wasn’t the Christmas I imagined, I learned to be grateful for what I did have, the things that really mattered. We lost everything, but I couldn’t have cared less. I had my husband and my family. God was still on His throne, in control of our lives, and none of the circumstances changed that fact.

It’s sometimes difficult in our society to acknowledge and remember that everything we have comes from the Lord. Now at Christmastime each year, I think of those times when we had no resources and were starkly reliant upon God. Our unchanging Lord and Saviour came through for us then just as He will always will.

May you and your family enjoy a most blessed Christmas!


  • Hendie Dijkman says:

    I remember that! Bless you John, Tanya and your family! We miss you guys!

  • glenda de Cooker says:

    Thank you Tanya for this timely reminder….how well I remember those events and the impact it had on all our lives.We too rejoice that God spared your lives for His greater plan (who would have thought you’d be where you are today?!) We wish you all a Christmas full of joy and happy times as we celebrate God’s amazing gift…His Son!

    we love and miss you all. xx

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