“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does,” 1 Chronicles 16:23-24 (NLT).
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home,” Matthew 25:34-35 (NLT).
As followers of Christ, Christmas is that time of the year when we gather together to celebrate our Savior's birth and what it means to us. We spend time with family, partake in wonderful food and treats, hang ornaments on the tree and sing joyful carols commemorating the Lord's greatest gift--the birth of His Son and His promise of eternal life.
It's interesting to note that the way Christians celebrate Christmas is not so different from the way nonbelievers celebrate it. The Christmas season is an annual tradition for many people around the world, including those who don't know Jesus at all. It's a time when people from a variety of backgrounds take time to exchange gifts and share meals with family and friends. As believers, how can we make our celebrations even more meaningful and truly make Jesus the true focus of Christmas? What if we did what this host family did and welcome strangers as family? Ministry volunteers Pete and Kristina shared how they invited nine international students for Christmas Eve dinner:
“We went around the table and each shared who was the most influential person in their lives. This gave us a chance to hear a little bit about each of their backgrounds and history. We recognize the fact that each of them was a very long way from home and families. And we acknowledged that and told them we understood any sadness they might feel. We laughed, had serious times of reflection on some of the stories told, and each of our family got a chance to share a bit of our testimonies. They all have such different personalities and seem so totally thankful for food and time to gather together. We truly love sharing our home with these students. We've invited them again next year and we'll probably invite more if we can squeeze them in!”
Every year our ministry staff and friends are so blessed by the presence of the world's brightest international students, who travel here from all over the world—many from the 10/40 window. A great number of these students experience such memorable hospitality and love, and eventually meet the source of that LOVE. They undoubtedly return home on a decidedly different path.
Yes, Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But how much more meaningful it is when we share this celebration by taking to heart what Jesus asked of us by sharing our love and the Hope we have in Him with others.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home,” Matthew 25:34-35 (NLT).
For More Information
Learn more about the exciting opportunities to share your faith with international students as an ISI volunteer.