by OneHope President Rob Hoskins
Countless millions of Christians around the world will be celebrating Christmas this year — just as you and your family are preparing to do.
Many will honor this special day with some of your favorite traditions — like caroling and candle-lit church services. Others will mark the birth of the Savior in ways unique to their own culture — eating spicy foods, celebrating on a day other than December 25, or even making reservations at Kentucky Fried Chicken!
As you read this exciting devotional, you’ll have the opportunity to join in and celebrate with your brothers and sisters from far off nations and learn from their unique and powerful perspectives and traditions.
One such tradition is Advent — a beautifully symbolic celebration leading up to Christmas Day, and a huge part of the Christmas festivities in many countries.
Often commemorated by lighting one candle each Sunday for four weeks, Advent readily demonstrates Christ as the "Light of the World." Each candle symbolizes 1,000 years — signifying the 4,000 years the earth waited for her Messiah — and holds a special meaning.
With this Advent structure, I believe your faith will be greatly encouraged as you read these timely and relevant messages on Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.
Each devotion — written by a OneHope ministry partner serving in another part of the world — will provide Scripture and insights to meditate on and will help you and your family to celebrate Christ’s coming in a fresh new way.
In addition, you will also find some specific prayer prompts — both for you and your family, and for our worldwide ministry together reaching children and young people with God’s life-transforming Word — as well as fun facts about special Christmas traditions from other cultures.
Thank you for celebrating Advent — and the birth of Jesus Christ — together with me and believers around the world! I am grateful.
God bless you and your family this Christmas season. May it be filled with the hope, love, joy and peace that Christ alone brings.
The Flickering Light
by Hisho Uga, Regional Director of Peninsular Asia and Japan
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” — Romans 8:24
My brother-in-law is a playwright, and a few years ago he wrote a play about three grown-up sisters that encourage each other in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Our whole family bubbled over with excitement to hear that a nationwide newspaper would be reviewing the play — even more so when we read what they wrote:
“In this play, hope flickers like a firefly.”
It was a beautiful review of the play — but also a powerful observation on the nature of hope.
Hope is not a glaring spotlight, but rather a flickering flame. Not an earth-shaking sound, but a small whisper.
Our hope is built on the promises of God in His Word — pledges that His glory will fill the earth like water covers the seas ... even though we live in a world that often seems more dark than light. Especially if you live in places with few Christians, like Japan.
The evidence of our hope can be very small. Sometimes not visible at all. But we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus — our King of Kings and Lord of Lords — appeared at one time, on the first Christmas night, as just a small baby in a manger.
During this Christmas season, let us treasure the beauty of the flickering light which is our hope — trusting that even this small light will be the beginning of a beautiful, powerful act of God.
What can you do to be a flickering firefly of hope in a dark world? What small ways might God want to use you to make a great impact this Christmas?
Pray for Hisho and our other OneHope partners serving in dark places around the world to be used by God to spark revival and shine the light of hope in a powerful way.
Pray for the children of Japan to discover that the hope of Christmas is not found in Santa Claus, but in Christ. Ask God to use their excitement for the holiday to draw these precious young people and their families to Himself.
Celebrating Christmas in Japan
Christmas "illuminations" are very popular attractions where train stations, parks, and other public venues set up tens of thousands of beautiful lights.
·Reservations at Kentucky Fried Chicken! It may sound odd, but this is a very established tradition in Japan. KFC begins taking reservations for a meal in early December — and only those who made arrangements can pick up a bucket of chicken for the holiday!
·Christmas is a holiday for couples (like Valentine’s Day). Young people typically go on dates and exchange gifts with each other rather than spend time with their families. Often those who don’t have dates for Christmas experience a greater sense of loneliness.
·Santa Claus tends to be the main figure during this season, rather than Jesus. In fact, most Japanese people are not aware that Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. Still, the excitement and festivity makes it a great opportunity for outreach — with public Christmas concerts, caroling, and church events.
This year, OneHope will be giving out copies of the Christmas edition of the Book of Hope to students at school and church Christmas parties.