It seems that Christmas, a festival observed on December 25, remains the same year after year, but there is always something new. The Holy Spirit renews us each year.
What is your most unforgettable Christmas? Receiving a gift, meet a new friend, or being touched by the Lord's love during adversity？Happening to meet your future partner or determining to serve God?
Eight Chinese Christians whose ages range from ten to over 50 share their most memorable Christmas moments.
A girl born after 2000: Hope this Christmas is as interesting as last year!
My name is Zhou Qianrou. I was born in 2007. My parents are both preachers.
Christmas last year was my favorite. My friends and I rehearsed the dance "Amazing Grace." Even though it was hard, I really loved it! I was pretty happy then!
My hope this Christmas is that it can be as interesting as last year.
Son of a preacher: I'm willing to offer myself to Jesus who was born for me.
I grew up in a traditional rural Christian family and my father is a full-time preacher. At present, I study in a theological seminary in preparation for my future full-time ministry.
I followed my parents' faith and became a Christian. My most unforgettable Christmas was in 2015 because I knew the true meaning of Christmas.
I had a rehearsal and performed programs for the Christmas party. In the final part of the celebration, a pastor talked about the relationship between Christmas and Jesus and the church played a video concerning the birth of Jesus. The message touched me. I was more convinced that Jesus was born for me and came to the world to give me life and salvation. More importantly, I could be a channel to spread his gospel and salvation. I became more resolved to offer myself to God as a sacrifice so that God's promise and plan for me could be fulfilled.
I hope that the church could bring something new like a conventional breakthrough this Christmas.
Young preacher: a girl who gave me warmth became my wife.
On a cold Christmas Eve of 2009, a brother and I were distributing gospel tracts to people at the church entrance. That was my second visit to the church.
A girl in a yellow down jacket asked me whether I felt cold, took off her scarf and put it on me. She added, "Is it better?" It was the first time that I received warmth from a girl in such a way. While my face turned red, she ran into the church. I asked what her name was, then she turned around and said, "Guess."
However, she didn't know that I fell in love with her, my future wife, in just a minute.
I pastor in a campus fellowship. My wife and I are waiting for the birth of our first child.
Post-80s mother: I was attracted by beautiful hymns at 16.
The most memorable Christmas ever for me, a post-1980s mother, was at 16. I heard sacred hymns from the mouth of many believers who looked normal. The singing from their hearts sounded marvelous.
Recalling the moment, I confessed that the Lord doesn't care much about outward performance, but favors our careful attitude toward spending each day with gratitude. God wants us to be fearful every day, not just on Christmas.
Post-70s teacher: Christmas Eve gave peace and joy to my students.
To be exact, the Christmas Eve in 2015 was the most profound moment for me, a teacher born in the 1970s.
The boarding school I work for passed out apples ("apple" sounds like "Christmas Eve" in Chinese) to the students and faculty during supper that day. After supper, I found that dozens of apples were put in my office as gifts. Moved by this, I asked one of my students to give them to two classes he taught along with a note ghostwritten by the student.
A few days later, my reputation as a teacher who loved students was, which surprised me.
Joy originated from inner peace and it was the outward expression of the latter. Although the students didn't understand the relationship between joy and peace, they experienced peace and started to ponder over its true meaning. Jesus was the source of peace, transcending "Christmas apples."
A pastor in his forties: people's converting is the most memorable part.
During my journey with Jesus over the last decade and more, Christmas seems the same to me every year. After my conversion, I first started to attend Christmas parties and then make arrangements for them when I worked in the church. The programs and pattern are always similar.
But the most amazing part is new conversions. The moment I lead people to pray the sinner's prayer is my most joyful and memorable time.
Meanwhile, I reflect on whether the church staff just work for the work's sake instead of being grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ and spreading the good news to non-Christians. I hope that Christmas can be a day when we meet with the Lord, give thanks for his birth, and gain renewal from the inside out.
An erudite pastor born in the 1960s: My wife and I devoted our lives to the Lord on that Christmas Eve.
On the Christmas Eve of 1989, my wife and I, who both studied in the same theological seminary, formalized our relationship. We spent the special night in a church in Beijing where it was only festive in the church. Different from my past experience as single, that night was even cozier and happier. We prayed that we wanted to devote our lives to the gospel as instruments of the Lord and His beloved children.
Since Christmas is coming, I hope that my church can achieve innovation and breakthroughs in ministries and integrate social resources about philanthropy and startups for believers.
Pastor born in the 1960s: Understanding the Bible well is a key to good preaching and biblical play performance.
I have celebrated Christmas for 30 years and each one is significant to me. It's hard to tell which one is most memorable... Let me share the Christmas marking a turning point in my life.
I became a Christian in November 1983. On the Christmas of 1986, my church held a quiz on biblical knowledge. The participants were required to answer ten questions and win a prize for being correct. The prizes were a notebook and a ballpoint pen. I got all the answers right and was the big winner. The host gave me a prize and the rest to other people as consolation. Since then, the church found that I knew the Bible quite well and recommended I enroll in Yanjing Theological Seminary.
In 1988, I observed my first Christmas during my days at Yanjing Theological Seminary. My classmates and I performed a nativity play. I felt that it was holy to engage in biblical plays. At that time, I thought that only if one understood the Bible could he act his part in a biblical play well and preach good sermons. So I keep focusing on Bible reading and preaching in the ministry and the practices are really helpful.
- Translated by Karen Luo