Getting pumped about Christmas? What are your plans? For young people living in countries where Christians are persecuted, making big plans for Christmas can bring opposition and suffering – yet many are determined to bravely celebrate the birth of Jesus, despite what others may think. Here’s some examples of how young Christians do Christmas…
Image: Christian girls in Laos practise a dance for their Christmas service
In Kenya, the word associated with Christmas is ‘Together’. “After the Christmas service, we eat and drink together because there are those who do not have money to buy food to celebrate in their homes,” says Mary (13).
The sharing doesn’t end there. “Christians from all churches go around sharing the gospel,” Mary continues. But opposition is never far away. Believers are pushed, insulted, even attacked with water. But Mary is undeterred. “My prayer is for the church to be so full that we don’t all fit in anymore.”
Most of us love dancing, even if we aren’t that good at it, and in Laos things are no different as dancing is how a group of young Christians celebrate Christmas in Laos. “We celebrate Christmas by dancing,” says Deng (12), as she rehearses for a Christmas service. “To show glory to God, sing songs and worship God with the adults.”
This desire to celebrate the birth of Jesus is even more inspiring given that, in Laos, Christian activities are heavily monitored by the Communist authorities, with many believers at risk of severe persecution.
In the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh, once occupied by so-called Islamic State, Lydia and Youssif learn about the Christmas story before Advent has begun. “We start on 1 November to learn about the story of the birth of the Jesus in my Christian education class,” shares Lydia.
For Youssif, one of the familiar refrains from the Christmas story inspires a prayer that reflects the dangers that still lurk in Iraq. “The Lord said, ‘Do not be afraid’,” he says. “I pray to Him and say: We need you today and every day, lend a helping hand and protect us from the harms, we are begging and trust on you, to bless the coming year.”
As we start looking forward to Christmas, could you send hope to young Christians facing persecution?
1. Write a message of hope to a few different young people and let them know that you’re praying for them.
2. Lose something from your Christmas list, and ask for a donation to Open Doors instead…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.