Every year we hope Christmas leaves a mark in our hearts and the hearts of others. This year Christmas left a mark on me as I see the church in Asia rising up.
The church here loves to seize the opportunity of Christmas to reach into people hearts during this season of tender-heartedness. The Burmese church sees this as a golden opportunity to build toward a climax of outreach. In the villages throughout Myanmar, the Christians go house-to-house singing Christmas carols for at least a week leading up to Christmas. They sing throughout all hours of the night spreading Christmas cheer and bringing a glimpse of the joy that Jesus placed in their hearts when he entered our world.
In Bangkok, the Burmese pastor who works with us used Christmas as an opportunity to follow up on flood relief in an area where many of his members live by the factories outside of the city. His members were a source of mercy and hope to their friends that work in the factories with them. For Christmas, actually an off day for the workers this year as it fell on Sunday, created an opportunity for the people to celebrate together and sing traditional songs and eat yummy Burmese food. So many were touched by the generosity and love shown by the church that they invited them back for a New Year’s celebration.
For the church in Bangkok, the story of Christmas keeps trending upward each year. People are more and more interested in Christmas. We even had a completely unconnected Thai guy come check out the church service to find out what this thing is all about. Churches throughout the city were packed wall-to-wall with newcomers. The conflict of what to do at Christmas with the church service and Sunday meeting at the same time never arose. All the people wanted was more, because the church is the only place Christians can celebrate the story of God coming to our world as a vulnerable baby born in a barn.
Living in Asia, I know Christmas has left an indelible mark on my life and the life of many on this side of the planet.
How has Christmas affected you this year as you reflect a day or two after the hectic celebrations and obligations?