In his Advent devotional The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, John Piper begins by observing that
‘Advent is a season for thinking about the mission of God to seek and save lost people…’
“Jesus came into the world at the first Advent, and every Advent since is a reminder of his continual advent into more and more lives. And that advent is, in fact, our advent – our coming, our moving into the lives of those around us and into the peoples of the world.”
So Advent is a great time to be praying for the advancement of God’s mission in Jesus to ‘seek and save the lost’ (Luke 19:10).
But where do we begin?
Here are 5 things you can pray about for Christmas outreach events in East Asia (or at home):
1. People to come!
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.’
In the parable of the wedding banquet, an invitation goes out to a group of people who ignore it in favour of fields and businesses. The king then tells his servants to go and invite ‘anyone you find’. They invite a very mixed group – the bad as well as the good – and the wedding hall is full.
Invitations for Christmas outreaches go out far and wide through church members, community notice boards, at the school gate and online.
Pray for boldness for Christians in inviting anyone they find…
… However, people have busy lives and could find reasons not to come. So pray that people would be excited to be invited to Christmas events across East Asia!
In the parable, the guests are a mixed group – pray for the same at Christmas events – that the ‘likely people’ and the ‘unlikely’ ones in our eyes would all come and meet the King’s Son this Christmas time.
2. Fearless preaching
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Philip Jensen writes:
‘If you have read the accounts of Paul’s life, you could be excused for wondering why Paul would ask for boldness….. His life was full of dangers and difficulties—shipwrecks, imprisonment, beatings, whippings, stonings—but he seemed always to abound in courage and forcefulness.
What we read in the accounts of Paul’s life are the positive answers to the prayers for boldness. We, looking from the outside, may assume that Paul had boldness in buckets. But Paul knew his need for prayerful support.’
Today, the local church leaders, evangelists, church members and missionaries in East Asia need this same kind of supernatural boldness to share Christ at Christmas.
Could you pray this verse for them?
3. God-given growth
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Churches can plan the most amazing Christmas outreach events and invite the whole neighbourhood. Yet it’s all for nothing if God isn’t at work through the event as people share about the Christmas story. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 3, God loves to use his people, but the growth comes from him.
Please pray for God to give the growth from the gospel seeds planted and watered at Christmas outreach events this year.
4. Lives shared
‘Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.’ 1 Thessalonians 2
Here Paul is reminding the Christians at Thessalonica of his original ministry among them and the great love shown to them. Paul not only shared a message with the people of Thessalonica; he shared his life as well. Friendships where there is enough love to share the gospel and the ups and downs of life are the best kinds of friendships.
At Christmas outreaches in East Asia, you could particularly pray for:
• Friends and family to see the love of church members in inviting them to Christmas events – because, to reverse things slightly, their Christian friends want to share not only their lives, but also the life-giving Christmas message.
• Pray that these non-Christian friends would come to the events
• Pray for these relationships to grow and for the courage to keep on sharing the gospel with them personally, beyond an invitation to the Christmas event.
• Pray, too, for new people who may come along to Christmas outreaches – that church members, leaders and missionaries would be able to build friendships with them, and in time share the gospel too.
5. Wisdom in follow up
‘The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.’
It takes wisdom and insight to be able to follow up with people well after Christmas outreach. Keeping up relationships and asking good questions that draw out what people really think of Jesus and following him are part of the picture.
On a very practical level, follow up begins at the end of the event. This is a great time for asking guests what they thought of the message and for keeping the relationship going. However, there are also lots of practical things (clearing things away, tidying up) to be done which can mean that this key opportunity is missed.
As one of our workers writes:
‘there will be so many things we need to do on the day. Setting up, tidying away again afterwards and so on, that it can be hard to take time and follow up on people. Please pray that we can set aside some of our team members for exactly that task and that we have the help needed for the practical things as well.’
So please do pray for wisdom in arranging the follow up from Christmas outreach events and that God would make this fruitful.
Follow #AnEastAsianChristmas for encouraging stories, testimonies and prayer points in the run up to Christmas 2021.
OMF International Stories Coordinator