It can be hard to be away from our families at Christmas time. However this Christmas, I was still surrounded by a family. And was able to share a beautiful Christmas story.
A family who had traveled from places like Russia and India, all to experience Amsterdam. Not only did we get to host them in this beautiful city but we got to share the Christmas story with them and tell them about the God who loves them.
The radical nature of the Christmas story, re-inspires me every year. The traditional nativity scene commonly depicts the wise men, shepherds, Mary and Joseph gathered around the new born baby Jesus. All who are making the best of less than ideal circumstances. All people who would never have a particular reason to share a room together, nevermind a stable. However they discovered a unity together when meeting with God. On Christmas eve, I had the joy of sharing this story with around 20 guests, many of whom had never heard it before. The cafe was buzzing with excitement. People opened up about themselves, asked questions as to
how God had revealed Himself in our lives and sang Christmas carols together.
On the morning of Christmas day, I came in to the cafe for breakfast; excited to see all the guests I had made friends with the night before. I was amazed how God’s Holy Spirit was overflowing in that room. Two staff members had shared their testimonies and people were once again absorbed in stories that this God of the bible was still active in people’s lives today.
One of our staff members is from Israel and had worked in the military before coming to Amsterdam. He shared this in his talk on Christmas morning, unkno
wing that in the cafe sat a girl from Egypt. She asked to speak to him afterwards as she really felt that, like him in the army, her life was going in a direction she didn’t want it to. He was able to encourage her and share with her what helped him. Later they went on to chat about the politics of their own countries of Israel and Egypt, and how it influences them to pre-judge people from these opposing countries. Yet here they sat, where no politics could divide them, but united by vulnerable hearts searching for truth in God.
Later that evening, around 50 guests piled into our humble cafe to share an unconventional Christmas dinner of spaghetti in sauce together. One staff member shared his life before he found Christ. He then shared John 3v16, and how this passage had radically changed his perspective and his life, whilst explaining what this can mean for others.
The talk finished but throughout the room, staff members chatted with guests in many languages. Staff and guests shared what this bible verse means to them, and guests were eager to hear more. We offered every guest a bible as a Christmas gift and handed out around 30-40 bibles that evening. Within that cafe were people from countries where the government suppresses any Christian influence, yet they now had the incredible freeing power of the gospel in their hand. The evening continued until 11pm, with guests thanking us for making their time here so special, and we in turn thanked them for making our Christmas so special.
At 11.30pm, we sat down to have our time of evening prayer and our remaining guests in the cafe were invited to attend. We got guests to open up their own personal bibles and find John 3v16-17. We explained deeper the beauty of God’s grace and shared how to pray to follow Jesus. No one decided to take that step that night. However, that evening an unlikely group of people shared in prayer together. A group of four Christian staff members, three Hindus from India and one agnostic man.
God frequently reminds me that He doesn’t need me in order to reveal Himself in people’s lives. Instead, He invites me to join Him on this exciting jour
ney and to be a part of His great mission. Sometimes it seems easier to recoil back into a comfort zone, and take a passive role in talking about Jesus. But this evening, I looked around a room of peopl
e who were full of excitement of such a special Christmas. People were eager to hear more about this Jesus who loves them. God reminded me that this is GOOD news to ALL people. I have stumbled across His treasure in my own messy life and I am allowed to be excited to share it with ALL people.