[caption id="attachment_443" align="aligncenter" width="944"] "A Very Happy Christmas 2012" by Tony Hammond / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Cropped[/caption]

Have you ever wondered what the Christmas holidays look like for our long-term field workers? Despite different contexts, most cross-cultural disciple-makers find increased opportunities to share the gospel through the story of Christmas. Most non-Christians from other cultures are interested in learning about our holidays, and this naturally leads to intentional gospel conversations.

This is how that looked for our family when we served in Central Asia…

Early in the morning on Christmas Eve we awoke to a blanket of snow covering the interior courtyard of the house where we lived. Our house was in the old town of an ancient city along the trade route known as the Silk Road. It was so cold that even inside the room I could see my breath. So I threw on the long quilted robe traditionally worn in winter. I quickly crossed the courtyard and entered the kitchen to start the gas heater so that Karla would have a warm room where she would spend the day cooking and preparing for our evening guests. We wanted to make sure everything would be just right for the three Muslim families who were coming to celebrate Christmas with us.

Along with typical American favorites such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a lot of Christmas cookies, we were sure to include the local necessities of flatbread, spiced tea, roasted nuts, and dried fruit. After a full day of preparation, everything was ready as our guests began to arrive. We ushered the men into one receiving room and the women and children into another. Karla hosted the ladies with green tea and storytelling, and I hosted the men with more tea and board games.

After several hours the men, women, and children all gathered together, seated on the floor, around a large tablecloth filled with Christmas dinner. I read the Christmas story from Luke, we sang worship songs for them in the local language, and then began to explain how just as God sent a ram as a substitute for Abrahams’s sacrifice of his son, so God had sent Jesus as the perfect sacrificial lamb to cover the sins of the world. God’s gift of Jesus coming into the world and His righteous blood covering over our sins on the cross was what we celebrated each Christmas. We shared how each person who turned from his or her own way and trusted in Jesus the Messiah would be made right before the just and holy God of the universe. We prayed with outstretched hands to God, in Jesus’ name, giving thanks for all He had done for us and then began to eat and fellowship together.

Our time together lead to further discussions about Jesus the Messiah both later that evening as well as one-on-one study of the Bible in the following weeks with several of our Muslim friends.

Conversations like these will happen many times over this next week as our long-term workers celebrate Christmas with those who have never heard of the Messiah. So as you gather with your friends and family, pray for those we have sent out and for those who will hear of Christ for the first time.

May this holiday season be a fruitful time of telling others about the coming of Jesus. May each of us, whether we are located in Central Asia or Central Alabama, see all of life through the lens of the gospel and seize every opportunity to share about Jesus the Messiah.



Jonathan B. serves as the pastor of Global Disciple-Making at The Church at Brook Hills. He and his wife Karla spent five years serving in Central Asia with their three children Joanna, Daniel, and David.