Introducing Children to God’s Greatest Gift
November 14, 2013
Re-enactments of Jesus’ birth, a holiday meal, and gift-giving are just a few of the activities planned when indigenous ministries hold Christmas parties next month as an outreach to their communities.
The Christmas season is just around the corner, and dozens of ministries assisted by Christian Aid are organizing celebrations to bring joy and the good news of the Savior to thousands of hurting children.
Ministry leaders say they look forward to this time of year when they have opportunities to openly share the gospel message. Their non-Christian neighbors may not know who Jesus is, but they have heard about Christmas.
From Southeast Asia to South America, holiday events geared for the local community have been hugely successful in attracting families who typically do not attend church. These festive programs include a dramatic presentation of Jesus’ birth, a meal, and Christmas gifts for children. As a result, many people come to understand the true reason for the season and commit their hearts to the Lord.
“This year we plan to organize Christmas celebrations in three locations,” said the leader of an indigenous ministry in Myanmar. “We estimate over 1,000 children will be exposed to the gospel.”
A nine-year-old boy named Maung was one of the children who attended the ministry’s Christmas program in 2011. Try as she might, his older sister could not persuade him to go with her to the weekly Bible club meetings at an evangelical church in their village. But when Maung heard about a birthday party, he could hardly wait for the big day.
Singing Christmas songs is a fun way to convey the gospel message.
Maung and his sister had never attended a birthday gathering quite like this one. The church sanctuary was packed with over 100 kids who were just as excited as Maung. Many parents had come too. His sister told him they were celebrating the birthday of someone called Jesus. Maung didn’t know who Jesus was, but he figured he must be a really important person.
Learning the lyrics to Christmas songs was a new experience for Maung. However, he did not understand the message behind the words. It wasn’t until a group of youth performed a dramatic skit about God’s gift of love to the world that the name Jesus took on special meaning for him.
After the program, Maung wanted to know more about Jesus. He asked his sister to explain why Jesus was crucified. She directed him to a Sunday school teacher in the church, who explained that Jesus died and rose again so people could be saved from their sins and join Jesus in heaven. Even though he was just a little boy, Maung knew that he had committed sins. He was touched that Jesus loved children like him. The teacher led him in prayer to receive Jesus as his personal Savior.
Maung’s story does not end there. The following week the Sunday school teacher went to visit his home. Even though the family was Buddhist, Maung’s parents were open to hearing the gospel and welcomed the teacher. Soon Maung, his sister, and his mother began attending church together. His mother eventually gave her heart to the Lord, and now they are praying for his father to receive Christ, too.
As part of their Christmas activities, the churches planted by the Myanmar ministry will hand out presents to about 300 children who attend their weekend Bible clubs. This year the ministry will supply them with gift packages that include items such as a blanket, a sweater, shoes, a pack of candles, toothbrush and toothpaste, notebooks and other school materials, and a backpack.
“The purpose of our gift is to thank the children for their exemplary life and conduct throughout the year,” explained the ministry’s leader. “We also want to thank their parents and encourage them. Please pray for the children and their parents to see the real reason for the season.”
Middle East churches will host special events for Syrian refugee children and their families.
Perhaps no place is more in need of a little holiday cheer than the subdued hearts of Syrian refugees. Children in particular have endured a lot of trauma and upheaval as a result of the brutal civil war. What better time of year than Christmas to bring them renewed hope and, at least for a few hours, help them reclaim the innocence of childhood.
Through ministries assisted by Christian Aid in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Greece, gospel workers are inviting thousands of refugee children to Christmas parties that will be held in area churches next month. The events are free and include meals and simple Christmas gifts. Muslim moms and dads are blessed to see smiles return to the faces of their children, and they, too, hear the message of the true meaning of Christmas.
After the celebrations, Christians visit with families in their homes. They offer Bibles and gospel tracts to anyone who is interested.
One Jordanian ministry is planning a kids’ event called “Warm Christmas.” Their goal is to give blankets and children’s Bibles to 2,000 refugee youngsters.
“Jordan is a cold country in the winter, and a blanket will act as a warm and practical gift of love from God to those living in utter poverty,” said that ministry’s director. “We also want to encourage these kids and their parents to read the Bible, realize its importance in their lives, and feel the warmth it brings to their souls.”
“This outreach will help the church bring the good news of Christmas to as many families as possible by reaching their children first,” he said.
Similar outreaches will be held in India and Nepal, where 12 native ministries are planning to invite children, widows, and poor families from the community to their Christmas activities.
Last year about 800 people came to a Christmas Day event hosted by a ministry based in northern India. Most of the attendees were non-believers who were hearing the story of the Savior’s birth for the very first time. After the service, 20 people joined the fellowship.
In one region more than 350 residents, including Christians from all of the surrounding villages, gathered for a holiday program at a church. The youth of the congregation performed skits and played music.
Teams of missionaries in one Indian city distributed New Testaments and some small gifts to those who attended their open air worship services.
“It was a blessed time to make the whole city aware of the meaning of Christmas,” the ministry commented.
Without a doubt, Christmas is the best season for native missionaries to share their faith more freely and more publicly. While there are occasional incidents of opposition, for the most part people—whether a Buddhist in Myanmar, a Muslim in Lebanon, or an animist in India—are curious to learn why so much excitement is associated with Christmas.
These Peruvian girls received dolls at a Christmas celebration in their village.
The celebrations have a particularly lasting effect on the boys and girls who hear the gospel presentations, share the Christmas story with their families and friends, and become ambassadors for the Lord Jesus in their own communities.
That’s what happened to Tatiana, an 11-year-old Peruvian girl who was invited by a friend to a Christmas event held by New Life Evangelistic Ministry.
“On that day I heard for the first time that Jesus died for me and that He cares for me and my family, so I received Jesus in my heart,” she said. “Now I am studying the Bible in church and soon I want to get baptized.”