In my early days in east Asia, I would say that most people had no idea what Christmas is about. But with this area opening up to the world, they have taken notice of the biggest celebration in the west and begun to celebrate it, too.
Here, it is called ‘The Holy Birth Festival’, but because they got all their ideas about Christmas from the current west, it has nothing to do with the ‘holy birth’.
Most Christmas movies show only big Christmas trees, lots of decorations, and children being drowned in gifts, but very little of Christ. Today, even if you were to go into a remote village, the villagers would probably recognise the round, bearded face of Father Christmas, but would not be able to tell you anything about Christmas.
However, in cities, the streets and shopping malls look very similar to those in our own country around Christmas time — littered with Christmas lights, Christmas trees and large presents under the tree.
These are all the worldly sights of Christmas, but the real meaning of Christmas is largely unknown. Most people here know very little or nothing about the holy child who was born to become the Saviour of the world; born to pay for the sins of these people, too.
Because this land is closed to the gospel, it is very difficult to share openly about Christ. We always look forward to Christmas, because it is a natural and perfect opportunity to share about him.
Everyone wants to know about western culture and its traditions, including how to celebrate Christmas. Therefore, around Christmas time, many Christian foreign teachers invite students to their homes to share about Christmas — to share about someone who can bring them new and eternal life.
Not only foreign Christians but local Christians, too, take the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a way where they can share Christ with those who do not know and believe.In coming to east Asia, the Christmas celebration — even though it is very secular and commercialised — has opened some doors for the gospel.
By Francois*, SIM South Africa Missionary (*name changed)
Pray that this Christmas, God would open the hearts and eyes of more Asian people to the truth of the gospel through the celebration of Christmas.
Pray SIM workers serving the Lord overseas will have the opportunity to share the Christmas message with friends and neighbours.
Give thanks to God for so loving the world that he gave his only son that first Christmas.
This story is taken from SIM South Africa’s magazine SIMnow which features more mission workers sharing what Christmas is like where they live and work.