Alliance News Feed – Christ-centered Christmas, Part 2
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Caleb F. (Middle East)
I grew up in South Asia, where it was a Christmas tradition to hang a star outside your house. The star was about the size of a large beach ball, made of colorful paper and cardboard, and hollow inside with holes punched in it. When someone placed a light-bulb inside, it sprayed little designs over its surroundings.
The image of that star and our home as a guiding light, leading people to the King, was so compelling, especially when we looked out into the darkness of that city, with all of its millions of lost people.
As we drove around that country with its myriad of dwellings all piled on top of each other, every once in a while we would find a star hanging outside one—a flickering wick in the midst of thousands, lighting the way to Christ. A reminder that even in that place with so little access to the good news, we were not alone. The King was on the move.
My wife and I now live in another country where sharing the gospel is just as difficult as it is in South Asia. They do not have the tradition here, but we see those same stars for sale in home-decor stores. This year we hope to buy one and hang it from our balcony.
Our prayer is that our presence here, though often seemingly insignificant, will light the way for generations of people who will in turn light the way for others across the region to find Jesus.
Kristen Cagwin (Germany)
My favorite Christmas memory from our time in Germany was making decorations for a Christmas service for newly arrived refugees from Syria. We decorated the church and then served treats and shoeboxes with gifts. It was amazing to see children and families hear about the birth of Jesus for the first time.
Anonymous (Middle East)
Last year our international church showed the Nativity movie that had been translated into the local language per our team’s request. We were so excited by the number of people that came to the movie night, many of whom had never before heard the story of our Messiah’s birth.
At the completion of the film, the pastor asked if anyone had questions. One man stood up very excitedly and said, “Where’s the rest of the story? When can we hear about the cross?” The beauty of the Savior’s birth pointed directly to the beauty of His death and Resurrection!
This year we will have the opportunity to share the rest of Christ’s story with these people. Pray they will come with open hearts to receive His gift of salvation.
Dave Manfred (Cambodia)
During our first term in Cambodia, a group of believers were celebrating Christmas—the first time in the history of their village. They had come to faith earlier that year and had built a simple structure composed of bamboo poles, a tin roof, and mud floor to serve as their church. They asked me to preach. What a privilege to proclaim the miracle of Christmas for the first time in that community!
As I spoke, I noticed the mud floor of the church. It was mottled with brown and black—the latter obviously manure. I realized the hut was used for church services only on Sunday; during the rest of the week, the believers kept their animals there. And then it hit me—this was the most authentic place in which I had ever celebrated Christmas.
Christ was born to join this group of new believers in a simple barn—a stable if you will. Jesus came, and still comes, into the mess of our world and our lives to bring redemption. Immanuel—God with us!
Anonymous (North and Central Asia Region)
Several years ago, I was talking with a pastor in our area. I asked about special Christmas activities or services her church was sponsoring. Her reply surprised me. It also made sense.
“We celebrate the birth of Christ every week,” she said. “If Jesus hadn’t come and died for our sin, we would have no salvation; so every week is a celebration.”
This answer truly impressed me. And it is my favorite Christ-centered Christmas story.
This woman has such passion for and deep joy in sharing God’s Word and bringing people to Jesus.
When she began pastoring the church in 2009, about 50 people attended. Of the more than 500 people who now attend regularly, 200 are part of the church’s 24/7 prayer group. (Each participant commits to intercede for one hour each week.) The group is called “168”—the number of hours in a week.
Jeremy Bergevin (Mongolia)
Mongolians decorate Christmas trees but call them New Year’s trees. They also have a Santa, yet they refer to him as Grandfather Winter.
One of our first winters in Darhan, Mongolia, our kids were attending the local preschool. The teachers asked me, the local white guy, “Will you wear the white beard and red suit for the party?” I agreed. The Santa suit was a little tight. Although the pants were quite short, my tall, black Mongolian boots made up the difference.
At one point during the festivities, “Santa”—seated on a chair in front of 50 kids’ beaming faces—bent down to hand out a gift. That’s when we heard a rip of red fabric in my costume’s lower regions. My wife Renee’s face got as red as my suit, her grin as wide as the tear exposing Grandfather Winter’s long johns.
Thankfully, the Mongolian celebrants never noticed my exposed underclothing. But Renee’s look and laughter as she retells the story each year always brings me a chuckle.
Source: Alliance News Feed – Christ-centered Christmas, Part 2