‘Tis the night before Christmas and I have all the typical warm and wonderful feelings that come with this time of year.
But my heart is also heavy as I think of our brethren in India. This looks to be a tough Christmas for them.
Christmas is the time of year in which Christians can publicly declare their faith and be tolerated in this predominately Hindu country. Many of the larger stores are decorated and have Christmas sales just like here in America. Our closest friends there have a tradition of visiting the local jail, giving the prisoners an apple and then presenting them with the gospel. Later in the day, they go into the streets with their Christmas program explaining to Hindus what Christmas is all about.
But not this year.
A new political party has come to power in India that is hostile to Christianity (as well as Islam or any other non-Hindu religion). Therefore, our friends have been denied permission to visit the prisoners as well as any other organized presentations of the gospel message. And they must be on guard when doing any type of evangelism because they know the police are unlikely to come to their aid if a mob of Hindus attacks them.
But it gets even worse. Even though it is technically illegal, there are multiple reports of Hindu groups offering significant amounts of money for people to “reconvert” back to Hinduism. They have chosen Christmas day as the day for these mass reconversions.
Of course, these folks in India are not the only ones suffering persecution and religious hatred this Christmas. ISIS has displaced and murdered tens of thousands of Christians in Iraq and Syria. Boka Haram continues to terrorize the people of Nigeria — especially the Christians of southern Nigeria. War in Ukraine continues to ravage lives of believers we know there.
Here in America, we are facing our own unrest in which “social justice advocates” are rising up against law enforcement (I have much I’d like to say about this, but I don’t think Christmastime is the time to do so).
All of this causes me to reflect on the importance of the real Christmas story and gospel message. Real peace on earth will never come until people have peace in their own heart. And people won’t have peace in their own hearts until they have peace with God. And peace with God only comes through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
And so, on this Christmas Eve, I am thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God’s gift to us. Those of us who truly know Him have His peace ruling in our hearts — a peace that passes all understanding. I pray for this peace to fill your heart this Christmas season and all year long.
And if you’ve read this far, can I ask you to take just a moment and pray for our persecuted and suffering brethren around the world (India, Iraq, Nigeria, Ukraine, etc) and those in racially torn communities here in America. Let’s hope and pray that the Prince of Peace will one day soon rule in each of these places.
Merry Christmas and might God’s peace be multiplied to you!