It’s that time of year again – the wreaths adorn the doors, the rooftops sparkle with lights, a tree fills the living room and presents in brightly colored papers and ribbons overflow like a sea of surprises. There are the wonderful smells of the spruce boughs and the cookies baking in the oven. There is the little manger on the mantle and the sound of carols echoing through the house. It is a mystical scene that stimulates the senses of the young children and strikes fear into the hearts of parents hoping they have selected the perfect gifts and that the dinner will come out of the oven perfectly.
This stereotypical picture is not what our partners in India experience during this time of year. Christmas is much more sedate and much more geared to evangelism, especially for our partner in Eluru. This is a time for a huge outreach to young and old alike. The ministry throws an annual Christmas party for children that generally has over 1,000 in attendance. The gifts are small with only one per child, but they are dearly cherished. The widows are always delighted to receive a new item of clothing as the Lord provides. There is little external display of the season as the Hindu religion frowns on the celebration of Christmas.
Christian Youth Service Center (CYSC) combines with their partnering churches to do outreach during this time of year. The young people practice carols and dramas that they present in various local village squares. For us here in the US caroling is a fairly common occurrence, but in India a permit is required for each specific location. Last year, the Lord did an amazing work in the hearts of the local police who voluntarily controlled the traffic and the crowd and actually requested that the program be extended. Contacts were made with the Gideon’s last year and this year the plan is to distribute Bibles at the event – please pray for this as currently it is forbidden by the government. Sharing the Word is difficult at best and open festivities recognizing the birth of Christ are greatly monitored. We should feel blessed that for the most part in this country we are free to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior as we choose.
We praise the boldness of our partners serving in areas where we cannot. Their lives are constantly under the microscope and frequently they are in great danger. Please pray that this year’s outreach by CYSC would bring many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.