December 6, 2016

For Such a Time as Christmas

Post by Brittany Tedesco

Painting of Esther.

Would he extend the golden scepter?

She appeared before the king without being summoned. That was illegal. If he did not extend the scepter, she would be executed.

Though God's name is not mentioned once in the book of Esther, God's sovereignty is abundantly clear. Esther and her people had fasted three days before she appeared before the king. She knew that the king's reaction to her illegal act was in God's hand.

An evil plot was underway to exterminate the Jews. Esther had a small window of opportunity to act before they were all killed.

Days earlier, Mordecai, her uncle, encouraged her to act in faith. He told her that if she didn't take the opportunity to try to save the Jews, deliverance would arise for them from another place. . . "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14 NKJV)

Esther then determined to go before the king, saying, "If I perish, I perish!"

You know the story. The king extended the scepter and asked Esther what she wanted.

Come to a banquet, she asked him.

Come to a banquet, you are an honored guest. Come to a banquet, I have some news to share with you. Come to a banquet, I want you to feel loved and cared for. Come to a banquet, there is something to celebrate. . .something you don't even know about yet.

Table with settings.

So many things are implied by an invitation to a banquet.

About 15 years ago, a ministry leader in Bihar, India (the "graveyard of missionaries") decided to throw a Christmas banquet for his Hindu neighbors. He hadn't had much success in sharing the gospel with them up to that point. A few months before his planned party, however, Hindu extremists threatened to kill him if he didn't stop preaching.

What to do?

"If I perish, I perish," must have been his thought, because he proceeded to go door-to-door, passing out invitations to the Christmas party.

When he accidentally knocked on the door of the man who'd threatened to kill him, God extended the golden scepter. The man simply took the invitation and shut the door in the ministry leader's face.

Indian children celebrating.

Like the miraculous turn of events that took place at the banquet Esther held for the king, a miraculous series of events at the ministry leader's banquet (including the supernatural multiplication of food) led many souls to the Lord. You can read more about it here.

The faithfulness of the ministry leader to step out in faith, no matter if it cost him his life, was the catalyst for 50,000 Christmas parties throughout India in 2007.

Sure, deliverance could have arisen for the people of India, entrapped by the false religion of Hinduism, from some other place, but who knows whether that ministry leader came to the Kingdom for such a time as this. How could he forfeit that small window of opportunity—Christmastime—to invite people to a banquet and share good news with them?

Christmas opens people's hearts to Jesus Christ like nothing else does. Throughout the world, people flock to Christmas parties in places like the Middle East, Indonesia, and India, where Christians are typically forbidden to share the gospel.

Middle Eastern children celebrating.

A ministry leader in Iraq told us about the strange openness to the gospel around Christmastime in his country. According to him, many Muslims celebrate Christmas just like Americans, with a tree, presents, and festivities. Government officials take to television to wish Christians a "Merry Christmas," and TV specials about the life of Jesus are aired. Throughout the season, Bibles are readily accepted by many—and even read in some schools.

"Last year, because of God's provision through generous Christian Aid Mission donors, we were able to distribute Bibles, New Testaments, and share the gospel during the Christmas season," the ministry leader wrote. "In the month of December, missionaries held three parties for children, each attended by approximately 500 children, who received Bibles. The children who made decisions for Christ are attending Sunday schools in home [tent] churches."

His ministry is preparing to reach displaced and local people from Muslim, Yazidi, and Kurdish backgrounds this year through Christmas parties. "Because of Mosul, the opportunities for the gospel during the Christmas season will be even further expanded," he wrote.

In the 1990s, a severe famine in North Korea drove many women to make their escape from that hellish country. Since then, hundreds of thousands of North Korean women have been trafficked by the Chinese people to poor farmers or disabled Chinese men.

Because a group of native missionaries in China took the opportunity to share Christ's love during Christmastime last year—delivering hot noodle soup to more than 2,000 North Korean workers and clothing to 580 orphans and elderly people in nursing homes—they discovered a group of 91 North Korean trafficked women living in a particular province and planted a church among them.

This year, a ministry in Spain plans to hold Christmas parties to reach not only the local Spanish people, but also the refugees and North Africans who live there. They also envision a huge banquet where the families they've led to Christ can invite their unbelieving relatives.

This month's Prayerline prayer calendar is filled with opportunities to help native missionaries around the world hold Christmas parties and proclaim the Good News to the lost. Sure, God can rescue souls from darkness in some other way—but why forfeit this small window of opportunity to act? And in so doing, send the message to native missionaries: who knows whether you came to the Kingdom for such a time as this?