Alliance News Feed – Christ-centered Christmas, Part 1
Heather Williams (Cambodia)
Our son was born in Cambodia in October, so it was not quite Christmas. But the weather had already turned as “cold” as it gets here, and a campfire was smoldering under the house on stilts next door. Carrying my newborn child, I went over to sit with the women huddled on a bamboo platform beside the home.
The smoke was thick, with a bit of steam coming from the pile of damp hay and cow manure. The cow herself was nearby, tied to one of the house pillars, and the dogs lay under my feet. A hen settled in her nest basket over my head.
That year, I felt very close to Mary, the mother of our Lord. I could relate! I understood in a new way how amazing it is that God would send His Son to be born in a stable. What a risk it was! But what a gift it was for me to relate the story to my neighbors with the sounds, smells, and props all in place—in a setting, which is their normal life, they could fully understand.
Anonymous (West Africa)
About eight years ago, members of our little church plant in Africa used half of their annual offerings to invite 25 of their friends from the majority religion to a Christmas party. We enjoyed a wonderful time of singing, preaching, and eating a big meal together. (The local mayor, also from the majority religion, even showed up!) It touched me that this small band of believers wanted to spend all they had on their lost neighbors, who at times had shunned them.
Anonymous (Creative-Access Country)
My special Christmas memory is from about four years ago. We traditionally invite nonbelieving friends to help us put up Christmas decorations. That year, Daniel*, a young college student, joined us. We had a good time getting acquainted, enjoying homemade cookies, and drinking hot tea.
Using a Nativity set, my husband shared the Christmas story; he then invited Daniel to become a follower of Jesus. Daniel wasn’t ready, but he did invite my husband for several conversations over coffee that December. He also visited us multiple times that month. We learned that Daniel’s grandmother was a Christian and had introduced him to Jesus when he was a child.
We told Daniel about the Christmas Eve service at our church, but he didn’t indicate he would join us. Our family attended with some other friends. Since the auditorium was packed, we enjoyed the music and worship from the balcony.
At the end of the service the pastor gave an altar call. About 100 people streamed to the front in response. Suddenly, I exclaimed, “Guys, that’s Daniel!” We were so excited to see our friend moved to go forward and give his life to Christ that Christmas Eve. What a great Christmas gift!
Connie S. (Balkans)
One of my most treasured Christmas stories is from my first year on the field. Often believers in my host country are the only ones in their family, so the church plant I was a part of held a major Christmas Day event that included a service, a meal, games, and dancing.
It was my first Christmas away from my family, but I remember enjoying the lack of commercialism and the emphasis on the family of believers. In America, Christmas Day is sacred family time. Most wouldn’t fathom having a big church event that day. But in this place, it is “family” time in the truest sense.
Anonymous (Middle East)
Several years ago, I met Rebecca*, an Iraqi refugee who had encountered Christ in a dream where He called her to come to Him. At the time she was isolated—all of her family had found asylum in Australia or the United States. She was quite alone, afraid, and in poor health.
After this dream of Jesus, a few Alliance international workers shared the gospel with Rebecca, and she put her faith in the Lord. She became merciful and giving toward neighbors she had once feared.
Although she had long since been rejected for immigration to the United States, Rebecca began to believe that one day Jesus would take her there to be with her husband, daughters, and grandchildren. She received peace about her situation, grew in her faith, attended an Arab church, and made Christian friends.
The day came when an immigration lawyer in the United States called to say her asylum case had been reopened. A few weeks later her visa arrived, and under a special “Family Reunification Program” of U.S. immigration policy, she rejoined her overjoyed family.
That next Christmas, I was unexpectedly called to leave our field in the Middle East and return to the States. The snow was deep in Chicago where I was staying with family, and I was afraid to travel. However, one day I felt compelled to visit this Iraqi believer.
I borrowed a car, drove the icy roads out of state to the city and address I had for her. I was lost for a while in that town, frightened by the road conditions. At last I found the location, made my way across the two feet of snow in the yard, and rang the doorbell.
When the door swung open, I was filled with joy. The entire family greeted me with loving hugs and kisses. Their faces shone more than any lights on a Christmas tree. I gave them a bag of goodies with as many things as I could bring for this special family.
We sat down together, all talking at once with great excitement, and I knew in an instant that this glad reunion was the best Christmas gift that I could ever receive.
I was blessed to see this dear friend, whom the Lord had led to Himself, now reunited with her long-lost family. Even during the long trip back to Chicago, my heart was “singing.” The road was still treacherous. I saw huge trucks on their sides in the ditch, and accidents all along the Interstate, but I was no longer afraid. The Lord had led me all the way, and nothing could take His Christmas gift away!
Source: Alliance News Feed – Christ-centered Christmas, Part 1