Several years ago our family lived, for a short time, in Darfur, Sudan because of an ongoing humanitarian crisis there. We set up a base in a small town and I traveled by helicopter, with a team of four others, back and forth out into the desert, so that we could help refugees in a remote area. We had free medical clinics, taught health lessons and our compound was known by everyone throughout that area.
On one night a Muslim man named David came to our compound and asked to speak to me. He had heard me talking about Jesus in the refugee camp and had some questions, but while we spoke, one of my team members came over and reminded me that it was time for our weekly church gathering around the fire. I apologized to David, and invited him to join in.
African nights are magical and we sat around a fire, out in the Sahara Desert, a hundred miles from cars or electric lights or the bustle of civilization. We sang several songs, we prayed and then the rest of the team asked me to tell a Bible story, as was our custom. I hadn’t prepared anything and, as I took a breath and looked up at the millions of stars, I saw one twinkle and decided to tell the Christmas story.
The main point of Christmas is that God sent a savior, just as the angels announced to the shepherds, but I backed up to the very beginning to lay the foundation as to why God sent a savior. I told the story of Adam and Eve, of their disobedience, their banishment from the Garden of Eden and humankind’s subsequent separation from God because of sin. And I told about the prophets that came, hundreds of years before Jesus, predicting his birth and glorifying his name with terms like, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.” I paused to ask, “How is it possible for a prophet, that believes in only one god, to predict that a child would be born who would be called ‘God?’”
I restarted the story and was another minute into it when David raised his hand to ask a question. “Are you saying that all of these things were said about Jesus hundreds of years before he was born?” he asked. And when I told him that that was the case, he lowered his head in thought while I told about the angel visiting Mary, the child being placed in a manger, the angels and shepherds, and the wise men. As I neared the end of the story, David raised his hand again and made an announcement to the group. “I believe everything that I have heard,” he said, “and I now consider myself a disciple of Jesus.”
Main point: After he rose from the dead, Jesus directed his disciples to look at the messianic prophecies to better grasp who he was and why he came.
So what: The prophecies are proof that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins. Read through the prophecies about Jesus this Christmas and marvel at the love of our Father.
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OK, Chuck, I’ve been waiting for years for stories like this from you. I hope that you are collecting all of these “Untangled” stories for your new book. This is what I’ve been waiting for — your simple stories have always kept me going. Something about hearing it told from the perspective of a (only seemingly, I know) simpler setting, like a desert, a jungle, a 3rd world country without our complications, helps me see the point more clearly. From this one, I gather that I am to keep walking and keep talking Jesus, and that I only need the simple story and the simple resources at hand (a star). But if I don’t walk and talk, then the Davids are forced to just walk on by, quiet seekers that are incomplete. Or … I could be the link in the chain that finally makes it all come together for them.
Please keep writing — I am a seeker myself, and this is a place to find bread. Love you guys, and Merry Christmas! Leigh
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Your points about simplicity are VERY important. Billy Graham used to say that the problem with America is that everyone has been innoculated against Jesus. They got a little dose of it as a child and then they built immunity against it. In Muslim countries, especially if there is war, famine or disease, people are humble and are open to hearing this new story. It is like writing on a clean slate. The stories of their salvation sound just like something out of the book of Acts. Being there is not at all easy and is often dangerous, but when you see God at work you can’t help but say, “Wow. It is an honor just to be here and see what he is doing. Merry Christmas.