China Chiristian Daily

- January 22, 2018 -

Society

Annual Christmas Dinner Bears Wonderful Testimonies in Local Community

By Mu Sheng
on December 30, 2017 06:12 AM

ribbons-and-evergreen-conifer-are-used-to-decorate-church-pews-to-celebrate-christmas
Ribbons and evergreen conifer are used to decorate church pews to celebrate Christmas. :

For a small suburban church in central Henan Province, central China, a humble Christmas dinner has been the tradition for decades.

There are two churches in my hometown: a large church in the town center and a small one in a suburb where my family attended. Back during the impoverished time it was a shabby house with only one room.

When I was little, I loved Christmas most because I could feast on a very delicious meal in our church, even though it was merely soup with some tofu, black mushrooms, and a little fat. Back then meat was only available at Spring Festival.

I was a bit of a foodie. On occasions when Christmas didn't fall on the weekend I would lie to my parents in order to have a few bowls of soup to satisfy my appetite. Some other kids also skipped school on that day and hid in the corner of the church waiting for the meal.

Other than kids, the meal would also attract many unbelievers in the village to rush to the church. The church never turned them down. It would simply build several big stoves with big pots to prepare food.

This tradition is kept even today and many people feast in the church. However, as people's living condition improved, the meal at the church is no longer special and there are fewer children. Most of the attendees are seniors that come for the memory. They often say that eating the Christmas meal at church will keep them safe in the coming year.

Thanks to this tradition, the church is able to connect with the locals despite some people still holding misconceptions. For the same reason, they don't reject the church since they all benefit from it.

This year, the church spent thousands on meat and vegetables, hoping to feed everyone nicely and full so that they want to come again next year.

In fact, it also works as an approach for spreading the Gospel. A former "Christmas attendee" converted because she saw the sincerity of the church through hosting the dinner every year free of charge. She said she felt embarrassed for not believing. Now, she has been in the church's choir for over two years and she also led her husband to church this year.

Our church hosts large-scale praise and worship. With free meals, many people would come to the church. This is a tradition inherited from an old leader to bear a good reputation in the community, so when people resist Christmas, this old generation will be the testimony.

Another tradition of the church is to give out Spring Festival couplets for free. Though they don't cost much, this action brings a greater sense of intimacy for the church.

-Translated by Grace Hubl

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