From the Open Doors Daily Devotional, December 24, 2017, at: http://www.opendoorsusa.org
Chinese evangelist, Brother Xi, was travelling one very cold Christmas Eve in the rugged province of Gansu. As he came to the next village he sensed something was wrong. He introduced himself as a bearer of good news. A small man interrupted, “Well we have only bad news here right now. A couple has just had their baby stolen.” In the poorer areas of China, where couples are restricted to one child, it is not uncommon to have ‘child snatching,’ stealing babies for wealthy childless couples in the cities.
He stepped inside the house to find both husband and wife staring quietly at him. The couple’s grief hung heavy in the air. He said, “I’m so sorry to hear about your plight, but I know someone who may help… God. Let me pray to Him.”
There was no reaction on the couple’s faces, so he went into prayer, feeling very uncomfortable indeed. “Dear Father, many years ago at this same time of year you sent a child into the world and rescued us all; we ask today that you will send back this child to us, and deliver this village from the sadness which grips it. Amen.”
Suddenly the young husband spoke, “Shut up and go away. We have prayed to our gods and nothing has happened. Why should yours be any different?” He was grabbed from behind by the other villagers and propelled out of the village. “Don’t you dare come here again!” they bawled.
Brother Xi wandered the hills in a daze of humiliation, tears, and crying to God. Then he thought, “I went to that village expecting a hero’s welcome, or at the very least, I relied on being a curiosity, quizzed and entertained by people who live very dull and isolated lives. Instead, I had only been treated a little like Christ was treated.”
Kneeling there in the snow, he knew what he had to do— go back to that village, knowing for sure he would be despised. This was to follow in the Master’s footsteps. With a pounding heart he turned and began to walk slowly back towards the village. Suddenly, across the still late afternoon air, he heard a baby’s cry coming from what appeared to be an old well shaft.
Sure enough six feet down was a little baby, wrapped in a thick blanket, lying at the bottom of the dry-well. He climbed down to hug some warmth back into it. It was a baby girl. Those who snatched it did not know it was a girl, and finding later that it was, left it in this old well to die.
He walked back to the village with the precious bundle of life. The villagers came running. They were amazed and overjoyed as they led him to the cottage of the poor couple, and the smile on the mother’s face as he placed her baby into her lap was unforgettable. “Come, warm yourself by the fire” said the husband. They drew up a chair for him, and as the other villagers crowded round, he asked, “Who was that God you prayed to?”
What an invitation. Here he was, the honored guest, looking at thirty eager people, waiting with bated breath to hear the gospel. “Well,” he began, “He came to earth in the form of a little baby, just about this time 2000 years ago…”
Luke 2:10-12 — The angel said unto them, “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
Matthew 28:18-20 — Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Psalm 77:13b-14 — What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
–Book of Common Prayer