Christmas offers the chance to tell the story of God.
In Thailand, the malls and department stores decorate for Christmas, but all the signs say Happy New Year. Christmas begins to spark a curiosity in the Thai people, especially the students. They are not sure what differs between Christmas and New Year’s Day in the West. They have no common narrative of Christmas. If they hear music like Handle’s Messiah being song by a choir in the mall, they don’t start singing along like in this video.
This allowed for a big outreach at the largest University in Thailand, one of the biggest schools in the world with more than 550,000 students. The Christian clubs along with a few churches joined forces and promoted a big event to draw students to hear the Christmas message. Live music blasted out of the PA system set up in the activities area playing praise music and Christmas songs. I imagine the students recognized the melodies to some of the Christmas songs as well as enjoyed hearing them in Thai. At the malls and other places that Christmas music plays, the songs are always in English.
The different groups set up booths to play games and give out prizes. Students flooded the area. With the mass of people gathered and a cacophony of sound, an outsider observer might say chaos ruled the event. After being around the country for some time, this is exactly what draws the people. The bigger and more frenetic games and parties are, the more exciting they are to the Thai people. This allowed us to share the Christmas message with them and initiate relationships. Now the follow up begins and long-term reliable friendships will be formed with many out of this event.
At the peak of students jamming into all the booths and the music blaring, rain drops started to fall. Keep in mind this is the dry season and rain at this time of year is rare, but we have had a couple of storms this week. I started to pray quietly, God keep the rain away. I knew that the rain would destroy everything planned for this open air event at the university. The Thai pastor from our church also prayed to rebuke the rain. The rain didn’t fall at the university, but when we arrived home, we saw puddles everywhere. We only live a few blocks away. The lightning was still flashing in the sky as we walked home. God wanted his story to be told at the university that night.
Christmas opens the door to thinking about Christ, but the relationships with the Thai people keep them moving toward Christ.