Alliance News Feed – A Secret Christmas

by an Alliance international worker serving in Europe/Middle East

“I’ve been wishing for a Bible since I was 10 years old. My father told me it was forbidden and I could never touch one.”

This was Bethany’s* response when I first offered her a New Testament two months before Christmas. She took it home, read the whole thing in one month, and came back ready to start her new journey of faith. Bethany even received a dream from God during that time confirming the decision she’d made to follow Him.

Perseverance Through Persecution

Those first two months were filled with joy, but she had to keep her faith a secret or risk being beaten or killed. Some weeks she couldn’t come to meet me because her father was in a bad mood and would lock her in the house. During those weeks Bethany read and reread the Gospels as soon as he left the house and memorized the entire book of Matthew in case her family ever took her precious book away.

When the Christmas season came, my husband and I invited her to our home to celebrate a few days before the actual holiday so her family wouldn’t know why she was away from the house. Even then, Bethany had only two hours before they expected her home.

We assembled the tree together, hung decorations, enjoyed hot cocoa and candy canes from America, and read the Christmas story in Bethany’s language. At the end of the night, we gifted her with a simple candle that wouldn’t arouse suspicion if her family saw it. It was to remind her of the Light of the world who had come and brought new light into her life.

Childlike Joy

Bethany was quiet and reserved throughout our celebration, so I wasn’t sure what she thought of the night. The following week when we met together again for our discipleship meeting, I asked her about it. Tears filled Bethany’s eyes. “I’ve never had a happier day in my entire life,” she said. “It was the best day ever, and I’ll never forget it.”

Sometimes I take for granted all the traditions of Christmas. I even mourn having a plastic tree because we can’t get real ones in our country. But celebrating it with someone who has never before known even one single tradition, seeing the joy she had about each little thing we did, made it one of my favorite Christmases ever.

*Name changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – A Secret Christmas

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