Are missionaries really necessary today? After all, as one YouTube video puts it: “Since the world is becoming a global village, Christmas is now celebrated in every part of the world!” But the worldwide spread of Christmas paraphernalia actually does little to communicate the Christmas message. As one of our WO colleagues writes:
“The only signs of Christmas in our town are the made-in-China, blow-up Santas that appear for sale in the street market in December (they’re cheap novelties that puzzle our neighbors), and the signs in some restaurant windows for Noel Specials. If they notice it at all, our neighbors assume Christmas is some kind of Western New Year’s celebration. When I walk around my neighborhood on Christmas morning, there is nothing to indicate this day is different from any other work day, and certainly nothing that sets it apart as the day God was born into our world to save it.”
Even here at home, cultural unease often limits us to sharing the Christmas message only with people who already know it. WO global worker, Susan, cries a little thinking back to the day she moved into a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Detroit, to participate in World Outreach’s 9-month TAG (Training Apprentices to Go) internship. She remembers looking at the robed and veiled women in the park across the street and thinking, “They are so different. How could I ever become friends with a Muslim? I wouldn’t know where to start.” When asked why she’s crying, she says, “Because now those same veiled women are such dear friends, that I can hardly bear to leave them!”
As Susan pushed herself to spend time with Muslims, they changed from a scary, nameless crowd to distinct individuals she could love. The same thing happened to a small group of EPC folks who attended an Encounter World Outreach event to investigate missionary service with WO. One evening, the participants timidly went out Christmas caroling in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. They came back full of joy, and a Muslim neighbor posted this on Facebook:
“Hello Admin, perhaps a change of vibes would be appropriate with all the animosity going on lately. This video was captured at my humble home. It features a group of wonderful carolers spreading the joy of the holiday spirit. My family and I invited them in for some tea, and a fresh batch of cookies. An extraordinary exchange of love and respect took place. Conversing Muslim-Christian pairs filled the room. The difference of religion was overcome by a more common understanding, HUMANITY! I hope this sheds even the smallest glimpse of light in these dark times. A special thank you to everyone that was caroling that night. Thank you for stopping at our house. Thank you for spreading the love. Thank you for your presence. May Allah bless!”
Christmas reminds us that God so loved us that he came to us with good news, and that being a Christ-follower means doing the same. Next summer, WO is inviting up to 100 EPC high school students to spend a week with Muslims in Detroit, sharing good news with love and respect. It can be a life-changing experience. For information on how students from your church can be part of the 100, visit us at www.epcwo.org/summermissionjam.
Grace and peace to you, this Christmas season.
EPC World Outreach Director
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Summer Mission Jam | July 8-13, 2019 Hamtramck, MI
An entry mission and outreach equipping conference for High School youth groups among Muslim peoples, alongside a partnering EPC church.