It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
It has been 365 days since we last encountered the manic shopping trips for Christmas cards, paper, presents and food. 365 days since we climbed into the attic to retrieve the boxes filled with Christmas lights and decorations. 365 days since the tree lights were working, so why are they not now? We were 365 days younger when we did it all last, which our aching limbs remind us of.
However, once the house is looking Christmassy we can relax to the dulcet tones of Christmas music playing in the background.
Christmas is a time of generosity and sharing. From the small act of throwing a few coins into the carol singers’ bucket or sharing our own Christmas by inviting someone without nearby family to share our enjoyment of Christmas dinner and the camaraderie of the day. Truly a season of giving which adds to the wonder of Christmas and, believe me, we are never the poorer for doing it.
Christmas in Asia
In the Asian countries of India, Pakistan and Myanmar, Christians are a minority; and yet the festival of Christmas in towns and cities has become increasingly more popular. Streets are decorated with lights, gifts are exchanged, and Christmas trees are sold in most department stores. Even Santa Claus makes his appearance. Christmas gives a welcome holiday to all, irrespective of faith.
The Philippines is known worldwide for hosting the longest-running celebrations for Christmas in the entire world. This country is famously renowned for starting their celebrations in September.
However, these scenes are far removed from what is witnessed in the rural areas of these countries.
How the Grinch has stolen Christmas
Sometimes it is easy to become immune to poverty overseas when it is so often displayed on our televisions in the comfort of our own homes. This is especially true during the run-up to Christmas with so many charities asking for donations to assist their valuable work. Poverty is sadly real.
The depth of poverty which exists in rural villages throughout Asia is something which is difficult for westerners to even start to comprehend. It is a struggle for those living in poverty to obtain the necessities to keep going day by day. When they pray for their daily bread they really mean it as they are unsure where their next meal will come from. It is heart-rending. I have witnessed it and the Vision for Asia partners work amongst it.
You may have read Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or even seen the film versions which have been made over the years.
It is a story about an odd looking green guy who gets so annoyed at the joy, laughter and Christmas spirit of the people of Whoville that he decides that he is going to take all the fun out of Christmas. He has the idea that if he stole their presents, trees, decorations and food, then the Whos would have nothing left to celebrate. They would have no joy. No fun. No Christmas.
In the remote villages throughout Asia Christmas Day is just another day. They will not be sending any Christmas cards this year or decorating a tree. They will not be busy wrapping presents or preparing the seasons food. These children know nothing of Santa-Claus, they don’t have a stocking to hang at the end of their bed.
Taking Christmas to the people
However, through the Vision for Asia Christmas Feeding programme, we are assisting our partners to take the joy of Christmas to families living in poverty.
“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.”BING CROSBY
This is a time for our partners to reach out to people living in these more remote areas. They all travel long distances to visit scores of villages which take them away from their families for weeks on end. Some must travel half a day by boat and an entire day crossing many fields and marching through the dusty paths. Despite all the hardships and inconveniences they experience before and after the celebrations, they do it gladly.
A community meal is prepared and the villagers gather to enjoy it together. Christmas gifts are distributed to the children.
The villagers hear the Christmas story for the first time and learn what Jesus’ birth means for them individually. And then the celebrations begin … and never cease to end! Nobody can steal Christmas when Christ lives within our hearts.
So, has the Grinch stolen Christmas?
After the Grinch steals Christmas he waits to hear all the lamenting of the Whos. To his surprise he finds that the Whos aren’t crying, they’re singing and rejoicing. The fact is that the Grinch didn’t stop Christmas from coming. It came just the same. And as it dawns on the Grinch that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, his heart grows three sizes and he returns all that he had stolen.
Even though the Grinch stole all of their “things”, the one thing he could not steal was what was in their hearts.
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
Please help a family this Christmas.
Christmas is when we celebrate that God came into our world and pulled those the world ignored into our line of vision.
Can you help to share the your Christmas by giving a family a special meal? Can you give a child a gift? Can you help us to make a difference in people’s lives this Christmas? Can you give a small donation to make their Christmas something to remember?
To feed a family of six costs just £5; To provide a child with a gift costs £5
Please visit our donations page https://www.visionforasia.org/about-us/make-a-donation/ to make a Christmas donation. Thank you!
May you experience the joy of our Saviour this Christmas and in all the days to come. He is joy and that is something that no Grinch can steal!
“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”Bob Hope