In Hong Kong, people like to be baptized on Christmas.
At first it seems a little strange. Isn’t Christmas all about Jesus’ birth? But think about it. God’s Son becomes a living, breathing person so that people dead in sin might become children of God! Getting baptized on this day marks the birth of the Savior and the new birth of that Christian.
This Christmas, there were more than 60 new births in our Hong Kong churches. Each is a unique story. For me, two are especially touching.
A year ago our church lost a young mother after a courageous battle with leukemia. Her husband continued to bring his children to church. His mother, Mrs. Li, accompanied them sometimes, mainly to care for her granddaughters. His father wanted nothing to do with God or the church. Despite the difficulties, his mother kept coming and got involved with a ladies Bible class. God’s Word is powerful.
This is what her son wrote about his mother this Christmas Day:
My mother is a strong-willed, super woman who never paid attention to God. For her to put herself aside, admit her own shortcomings, and even confess she is sinful and in need of redemption—humanly speaking, this was simply an impossible task.
However, my family and I believe God has great power. We prayed every day for my mom to believe in God. The God who hears prayer allowed a miracle to happen again today. My mother “believes and is baptized.”
I talked with Mrs. Li after worship. She told me with a glowing smile that it was all God’s doing. The faith and hope her daughter-in-law had showed in the face of death was a powerful testimony to God’s love. Praise God for his amazing grace.
Later that same Christmas, another Chinese lady, Mandy, was baptized. Her story is unique because God used a banana peel to lead her to Christ! She got to know us through Carmen, a WELS member who teaches English in Hong Kong. One afternoon, Carmen was walking near her apartment and didn’t see a rotting banana peel on the sidewalk. Down she went!
The awkward fall injured her knee. She needed to find a physical therapist, and God led her to Mandy. Carmen gradually shared her life and faith with her. Mandy had a grandma who was a Christian, but Mandy was never too interested in spiritual things. She’s a triathlete who competes in Iron Man competitions—running, swimming, and biking long distances all in one day.
Mandy occasionally visited our English-speaking church, especially when there were activities. After many invitations, Mandy started studying the Bible with Dr. Steve Witte, president of Asia Lutheran Seminary. She studied off and on. Sometimes she got busy with competitions; other times she lost focus. A number of professors and wives reached out to her. We kept praying.
Then God used a terrorist attack in France to get her attention. Carmen and Mandy were talking about this attack and the fear it can produce. Carmen said she wasn’t worried because she knew where she was going after death. That deeply struck Mandy and she asked herself, Why am I waiting? God has prepared a place for me through Jesus. Get baptized!
Confessing her sin and declaring her faith in Jesus as her Savior, Mandy was baptized on Christmas!
Angels rejoiced at Christ’s birth! Angels rejoiced this Christmas as these two sisters were baptized. Angels are rejoicing around the world as the news of Christ’s birth results in the new birth of people from every tribe and nation!
A blessed Christmas indeed!
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Author: Rob Siirila
Volume 103, Number 04
Issue: April 2016
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