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Celebrating Christmas

Iraqi child celebrating Christmas

The following post was adapted from the writings of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. Pastor Wurmbrand died in 2001.

Historians are not sure of the exact date of Jesus’ birth, or of the reason December 25th was chosen to celebrate it. Pastor Wurmbrand suggests a reason persecuted Christians might have chosen December 25th.

(The post has been edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

Pastor Wurmbrand said:

Jesus surely was not born on December 25th. The Bible does not tell us the date.

In the Roman Empire, the 25th of December was a holiday celebrated in honor of the sun. Perhaps the Christians chose that day to celebrate Jesus’ birth. With others also celebrating on that day, the Christians’ celebration would be less noticeable to authorities who persecuted them for following Jesus.

But the Christians did not just celebrate Jesus’ physical birth. They celebrated the daily miracle of Jesus’ birth in the souls of those who had accepted Him as Savior.

Jesus was born in a stable and put in a manger. Jesus does not belong in a manger. The place he longs for is in our hearts. That is where He wants to live.

When He is born in my heart, that is the real Christmas.

Celebrate Christmas in this sense.

(Source: Reaching Toward the Heights by Richard Wurmbrand)

Papel Picado

Paper cutout banners, called papel picado, are used in Mexico as decorations at Christmas and other celebrations.

To make a mini-banner, stack four 6-inch square pieces of colored tissue paper. Fold the stack once lengthwise, then once widthwise.

The folded squares will have two sides with folds in them and two sides without. Cut shapes out of the sides. (See the photo.) Leave one of the sides without a fold uncut. Avoid cutting within one inch of the uncut side.

Unfold and separate the squares carefully. Fold a half-inch strip at the top of each piece. Run a string or thick thread through the folded strip of all four pieces. Tape the strip down, leaving an inch of space between the pieces.

To learn about courageous Christians in Chiapas, a part of Mexico, see Bold Believers in Chiapas, available in the Downloads section.

Remember-the-Persecuted Christmas Wreath

Print small photos of persecuted Christians from this website or from The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. Glue them to thick, colored paper or cardboard, leaving a one-inch border of colored paper around the photos. Punch a hole in the top border. Use yarn or ribbon to attach the photos to a grapevine wreath or other wreath.

(Note: Some photos are available with the “Key Chain Pictures” activity in the Downloads section on this site.)

Laos: Teaching the Persecutors

Laos children praying

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. — Luke 6:27-28, NIV

Earlier this year, seven families in a village in Laos gave their lives to Christ. They began traveling to a nearby village every Sunday to worship and fellowship with other Christians.

When leaders in their own village found out about the new Christians’ weekly trips to church, they scolded them. “Christianity is a foreign religion!” the village leaders told the Christians. “It goes against our traditions.”

The Christians could have gotten angry with the leaders and argued with them. They could have quit going to church in the other village and worshiped secretly at home. Or maybe they could have left their village and moved somewhere else.

But this is what they decided to do: They began peacefully meeting with the village leaders to explain the teachings of Christ and the practices of the Christian faith. Now the leaders allow the Christian families to go to church without scolding them.

“Pray that all the village leaders will hear and believe the gospel,” said a VOM worker. “And pray that other village families will join the seven new Christian families in worship.”

To Talk About
Do you think the Christians made a wise choice about how to deal with the village leaders? If so, what are some of the reasons it was a good choice? If not, what would have been a better choice?

God Changed Everything

South Asian boys reading a children’s Bible

Brother Matthew is a Christian worker in South Asia. He recently shared with VOM Radio the story of how God changed his life when he was a teenager.

Brother Matthew’s Story
I came to Christ when I was 14 years old. When I was 16, I started leading a choir. I was also in a youth Bible study and prayer group.

One day, there was no leader at the Bible study. One of the boys was making fun of others in the group. I was a stutterer, but I stood up and said, “Guys, don’t make fun of each other. We are here to pray and study the Bible.”

The boy said, “The teacher isn’t here. So why shouldn’t we make fun of each other? Let’s have fun. Why don’t you preach today if you’re so concerned about Bible study and prayer.” He knew preaching would be hard for me because I stuttered.

But I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” I took my Bible and started reading it. Before that time I couldn’t read the Bible aloud — not even one single sentence. It was very difficult for me to read.

As I stood up and read the Bible, I felt that something happened. I started reading fluently, then I began explaining the verses to the group. God had miraculously healed my tongue. I spoke for 10 to 15 minutes, and everybody in the room was shocked. That is how God changed everything.

Brother Matthew Today
Most of the people in Brother Matthew’s country are Muslims. He and his family have been threatened and persecuted because of their Christian faith and witness. Please pray for their safety and ministry, and for their persecutors to come to Christ.

To Think About
If someone with you started bullying or making fun of others, would you have the courage to ask them to stop?

(Source: To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)