The shops here are decorated with tinsel, there are Christmas trees and light displays to visit, Christmas decorations are available to buy, and I can hear carols being played over the shop speakers.
Where am I? I am in a city in South-East Asia.
Yes, on a surface level it would seem that people celebrate Christmas here. However, it has probably become mostly just another excuse for shops to draw more people in and sell more things. Or, it has become a part of the New Year celebrations. And I don’t think many people understand the words of those carols being played, and sadly, much less likely to understand the meaning behind them.
On Christmas Day itself, as we leave home to go to our church’s service, I notice that in our city, life carries on just like any other day. Shops are open; people are out and about.
Yet there is a small, but growing, number of people in this country who understand what Christmas is truly about. Communities of believers who use this time as an opportunity to reach out to their neighbours, and to share the message that Christmas is about Jesus, who came to this earth to make us new.
I think back to last year, our first Christmas here where I went carol singing with people from my church at a hospital here. I was encouraged by a local church who put on a Christmas in the Park experience so people could learn about the meaning of Christmas through art, music and books. This Christmas, I look forward to celebrating Christmas within the communities our team works with.
So please pray, that those who were able to hear the Good News this Christmas will reflect on what it means, and will make the decision to follow Jesus themselves. We hope that each year more and more people will be able to hear this message, that they too can become new through Jesus, and have hope and peace for the future.
Article written by Robyn. Robyn lives in South East Asia with her husband Josh, and their three children