If you’re willing, take a moment and think about Christmas. What does it mean to you? What does it look like in your home?
Think about the special traditions that have been handed down in your family year after year, generation after generation – you know, the things that make you smile and feel all warm, fuzzy and gloriously nostalgic inside.
Now, imagine spending Christmas in prison for the sake of the gospel – away from family, friends and most of your fellow believers.
This is the reality for many Chinese Christians. And, in a manner of speaking, it’s also the reality for many Christians in the West.
We in the West may not find ourselves in literal prisons, but many of us suffer terribly in different ways during the holidays. Maybe there’s nothing about Christmas that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe there isn’t any glorious nostalgia. Maybe there’s nothing but loneliness, fear, shame, guilt, hurt, regret and sadness.
For all the outward wonders of Christmas in the West, many people find themselves wishing, along with songsmith Joni Mitchell, for nothing more than a river to skate away on.
If you can relate to this, the good news is that there’s hope!
The Lord has come to be our Immanuel – God with us. He doesn’t come singing popular carols. He doesn’t come telling us to “cheer up” and stop being so gloomy. He’s not making a list and checking it twice.
He comes to us apart from all the outward trappings of Christmas to heal our hearts, to “go before [us] and… be [our] rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12). “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-5). He comes to us this Christmas to meet our most desperate need – the need of a Saviour.
Back to Jerusalem has a special offering this Christmas that will appeal not only to those who love the holiday season, but also those who suffer through it. You see, though the suffering of many Chinese Christians is amplified during the holiday season, it doesn’t ultimately dampen and defeat their spirits!
Why? Because Christ is there, in the midst of his people. Christ is there, in the hearts of those who trust him and confess his name. Christ is there, weeping with those who weep, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and upholding in richest love those who suffer.
This is the central message of Christmas, that the Lord himself has come to be our Immanuel – God with us – and it shines all the more brightly the more dim the circumstances.
Back to Jerusalem has produced a beautiful coffee-table book called “Christmas in China with Brother Yun”, which includes a CD of nine Chinese Christmas songs composed and performed by members of the Chinese house church. You’ll read stories of how Chinese believers have found hope and strength in the storm, and you’ll hear their voices praising their God and ours.
Allow these suffering Chinese believers to encourage you and lift your spirit this Christmas. Allow their testimonies to minister to your heart and lead you to the River of Life, the River that you truly can skate away on – Immanuel, God with us – Christ himself.
You can follow this link to get your copy today: https://backtojerusalem.com/home/shop/christmas-in-china/