Lunar New Year is coming! Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans in Australia, Canada, the US, Europe and, of course, in every corner of Asia, are getting ready to celebrate this major festival on the Lunar calendar.
If you were to visit a Chinese home during this season, you might find greetings and wishes in red and gold adorning the house, while pots of New Year plants and lanterns grace the entrances. Mandarin oranges would be carefully arranged in baskets alongside jars and trays of New Year goodies. The air would be filled with the aroma of pots of delicacies gently cooking in the kitchen. Occasionally, you might hear the booms and clangs of drums and cymbals of a passing lion dance troupe or the tunes of New Year music coming from a music player.
A GoodSeed staff member tells us of a Thai friend who was trying to understand what the Bible was all about. He writes:
My Thai friend Aroon* told me that he used to have a manager who was a Christian. This manager had spent several months trying to explain the good news of the Bible to him. He used John 3:16 as his starting point. He told Aroon, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten son…”
Aroon halted his manager right there and articulated several problems he had with that verse. First of all, God to him was not a person. God was a universal force, the kind of force that holds the universe together, like gravity. Aroon couldn’t understand how a force could love him. Secondly, what was love anyway? Was love just a warm feeling in the heart? And this universal force had a son? How could that be? If God had a son, did he also have a wife?
The problem was that Aroon had absolutely no background about God and the Bible. Those very precious words had a different meaning for him because he lacked the biblical perspective.
Christmas came early this year for 220 Thai Pastors who recently received a Thai edition of By This Name and a Worldview Rethink Basic ToolBox of visual aids. Together these resources are a dynamic package that they can use to clearly teach the Bible’s message from Creation to the Cross in their own Thai language. Please pray for these leaders as they return to their congregations and communities to begin studies. And please pray too, that as people hear the Gospel for the first time, it will be clear to them and that through these studies, many will come to believe in the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
“Haste makes waste.” We’ve all learned that some things just aren’t worth rushing. Celebrating Advent is one of them. Sharing the Gospel is another.
Advent is a slow and purposeful celebration. It cannot be hurried or abbreviated. It is more like a buffet than a drive-through. Each week’s candle kindles a new truth: hope, love, joy, and peace. The light of one glows onto the next until the final candle, representing the Saviour born in Bethlehem, is illuminated. If we rush through the holidays without taking time to reflect on these truths, Christmas loses its significance.
We get a number of questions from people each week asking us how to use our tools. We want to share some of the most helpful questions and answers with you.
I am beginning a work with a group of First Nations people. Some in this group have expressed interest in doing a study about the Bible. I am going to use either The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus or By This Name but am undecided as to which would be more effective.
The audience will be mixed in age with some Catholic background, but also with some animistic background. I am leaning to using By This Name because of this background and because of the “religious” influence that may be lingering over their beliefs. What do you think? Any feedback is appreciated.
Since they were young, Emily and Seana* were very close friends. Emily experimented with the occult and led Seana into it as well. Emily invented a whole world for the two of them and taught Seana how to conduct seances and use a ouija board. Both of them did not know how getting involved with witchcraft could damage their lives.
For the past few Christmases, many people have taken the opportunity to share the Gospel by giving friends, neighbours and co-workers copies of What are Christmas and Easter All About? Using “Easy-English,” this fully-illustrated booklet has been a real help in explaining the core message of the Bible to people with absolutely no Bible background.
Praise God for some of the stories we’ve heard of people who have believed the Gospel simply by reading this booklet. One family received it as a gift at a Christmas concert and it had a huge impact on them! (Read more about their story.)
Sam* and Nick* are brothers. Sam is a believer but Nick was ardently opposed to talking about religion. Because Sam loved his brother, he never stopped trying to give Nick the gospel. When Sam came across By This Name, he was excited and got a copy for Nick and urged his brother to read it. Nick took the book but put it aside.
Our Thai brothers and sisters in Christ are continuing to give out copies of the Thai translation of By This Name to anyone who is interested. Near Chiang Mai University where the books were being handed out, a man who runs a little shop selling ice saw the book and was very keen to read it. He asked for and received a copy. Please pray he will read it through and understand the gospel.
Do these passages speak of Satan? In a day and age when the Scriptures are often mangled and twisted out of context it is important that we know why we teach what we do concerning Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. We do not want to allegorize or read a deeper meaning into a passage unless the passage is clearly intended to be understood that way by the original author. We also recognize that some Bible scholars would take a different viewpoint on these passages and this is reflected in some study Bible notations.
In writing The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, the goal was to get down to the basics without being sidetracked on some of the exegetical challenges that exist. There are certain parts of Scripture that are harder to interpret and we would put Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 into that category.