“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10, 11 NASB).
For ALL the people! Have you ever taken the time to try and understand what those words must have meant to the shepherds who first heard them? And for the rest of us as we read them in Luke’s account of the birth of Christ? I can’t say that I had. Well, not until Christmas Day 2006.
My family and I had been in Japan with OMF for all of 21 days. We were still unpacking; I was in my third week of language study, as my wife wrestled with a three-year-old who didn’t enjoy the frozen environment of Hokkaido. It was indeed a very different Christmas to the ones that I was familiar with in Australia.
But it wasn’t just the climate that was different. Although Christmas is celebrated here in Japan, it looks and feels different. Japan commonly takes customs and traditions from other places and adapts them for Japanese tastes. And so, it has been with Christmas. For starters, it’s not a public holiday as it is in some other countries. For this reason, a large number of churches have their major Christmas events, the Sunday before. And it was for this reason, I found myself on Christmas Day sitting in our apartment with time on my hands, thinking about what the angels meant by “good news for all the people”.
Fourteen years later and it is still something I think about. Not due to a lack of understanding, but because my heart breaks for the many Japanese people who have still not heard the gospel of Christ—millions who have not heard the good news that is for ALL the people. It is something that I actively think about as we seek to engage Japanese people in ways that are impactful, particularly at Christmas. What started with a band of shepherds 2,000 years ago continues today with Christians sharing the good news until the day it has been heard by all the people
By Steve, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that all the people in Japan will hear the gospel.
- Pray for wisdom about how to interact with Japanese people in a way that impacts them this Christmas.
- Pray that the gospel will continue to be spread through the whole earth so that all will hear.