A sweet Hui family, who own a hole in the wall restaurant, cooked up a special dish of “Big Plate Chicken” to serve on Thanksgiving evening to their foreign friends and special memories were made, deepening their relationship. Kiddos dressed up as angels and shepherds and heard the true story of Christmas while wearing costumes and having fun with their friends. On Easter a new believer was buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life. These few events are only a small snapshot of what happened in our city during holidays last year. Every year is full of many holidays that resonate with deep meaning and include special celebrations. However, there is something especially great about celebrating holidays in a place where many people have never heard about the hope that we have in Jesus. Holidays open up natural opportunities for us to share the Good News, provide opportunities to invest in our current relationships and community, and have long-term lasting effects.
As China opens up more and more, the Chinese people (the younger generation especially) are more aware of American holidays. They often study Western culture in school, and holidays are included as part of this (albeit on a very secular and superficial level). Because of this, our local friends voluntarily bring up upcoming holidays, ask us how we will celebrate, and wish us holiday greetings. On the same token, it is easy for us to ask our friends, and even strangers, if they know about the upcoming holidays that we will be celebrating. When conversations about holidays are started, transitions to the Good News open up and opportunities are taken to proclaim Truth. Christmas and Easter bring up especially good topics of conversation, as the extent of what most people know regarding these two holidays are the “Christmas Old Man” and colored eggs. Talking about these two holidays in particular is a really cool experience, as we are able to share the true meaning that gives us a reason to celebrate, oftentimes with people who have never heard.
As we share with others the true meaning behind the holidays we celebrate, we also look for opportunities to include them in our celebrations. Parties are had, meals are shared, and cookies on cookies are baked so that we can reach out into our community and show them love and hospitality during these festive times. Our close friends enjoy being included in our traditions and participating in holiday events with us. By celebrating together, we are able to go deeper in our relationship with them, make fun memories, and remind them of the truth they have already heard. When we share special times and traditions with our friends and neighbors, they become more like family. Newly met acquaintances are typically eager to participate in holiday events as well, even if it is only because they are interested in doing something with foreigners. Because of this, holidays (especially Christmas) are a busy time as we work together to host parties that will include different areas of the community that we are involved in. For those who share in celebrating with us, they not only enjoy the fun activities and endless amounts of sugar, but they are also able to hear the Good News proclaimed.
Each holiday may only come around once a year, but the effects of how we utilize this time in our community is on-going. Our ultimate goal during holidays is that many people would hear and then turn and seek the Lord. By hosting events in the community, our relationships with different entities (schools, businesses, work places, etc.) are improved and it allows us to have further opportunities to pour into the people in those places throughout the year. During these events, many people are also able to hear the Good news for the first time. Afterwards, we have a good group of people that we can continue to follow up with, share with, and show love to. Oftentimes it is through holiday events that people express interest in wanting to learn more about the Good News that they have heard and seeker studies are started.
No matter where you are, holidays are a special time of celebration and strategic time of proclamation. We hope that as holidays approach, you will take time to consider how you can be intentional to share the Good News, include others in your celebrations, and that in doing so there will be lasting effects of great significance. As you make the most of holidays where you are, we ask too that you would remember the Hui and the people working among them. Pray for people who will hear the Good News for the first time. Pray also for those who have heard many times and will be hearing it again. Pray that workers would use time and resources wisely to proclaim truth during the holidays. Pray that there would be many opportunities taken to show hospitality and share the Good News with the Hui people. Pray that God would use these special times to bring many sons to glory, for the sake of His Great Name.