Monday, December 5, 2016

Telling the Christmas Story

“…And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?....” part of Romans 10:14

Shaheen remarked, “Joy, Christmas has started.  It lasts so long! I’m jealous.  Our Eid is just a few days but Christmas is for so long.  Why can’t we have Eid like Christmas?”  Her jealousy caught me by surprise.  We know that it lasts a long time because it mostly has to do with commercialization, but I thought, hmm….I guess it’s not so bad it lasts a long time if it makes someone jealous.  More time means more opportunities to tell the story.

 Muslims in the West are surrounded by the secular commercialization of Christmas. They are attracted to beautifully decorated Christmas trees and homes, hear the festive carols being sung in malls and perhaps take their children to a Santa parade. There are Christmas or Holiday parties going on everywhere, including ESL schools and in public schools. Many take their children to visit Santa in the mall and have a photo taken. 

When I visit my friends during December I usually ask them, “You have heard the story of Santa but have you ever heard the real story about Christmas?” Often I get the reply they don’t know any other story. “Really? You’ve never heard the real story of Christmas?” I exclaim. I try to build up a desire to want to hear it. “How long have you lived here? Has no one ever told you the real story?” By this time they are curious to know what the real story is all about. “Would you like to hear it?” I ask them. When they say yes I tell them the story. It is as simple as that. They are aware of Mary and baby Jesus(Isa) but not much more than that. Ask them what else they know about the story. There were precise prophecies, angelic visits and dreams, a one-of-a-kind conception, a shocked fiancé, an unusual star, astrologers, a wicked and jealous king who went on a terrorist rampage, shepherds, extravagant gifts appropriate for a king, a significant name given to the baby, Yousef and Maryam and Isa became refugees on the run, etc. It’s a dramatic and exciting story. God has a good plan for the world. I like to capitalize on the meaning of the name of Jesus – as much as they can handle in one sitting. Explaining theology is necessary but they also need to hear the story. Unfortunately sometimes we jump right into theology and doctrinal facts but alas, leave out the story. 

Afterwards I ask them if they understood the story and if so, could they please tell the story back to me because I want to see if they really understood it. I help them if they have difficulty. “And what happened after that?....What does that mean?”....”Who had a jealous eye?” "What does the name Jesus mean?"…and so forth.

They can’t believe in Jesus as Savior if they have never heard the story of Him. Why not try to tell the story to one Muslim friend this Christmas?

Dear heavenly Father, please help me not to be afraid or shy to tell the Christmas story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.