Dear Friend of Missions,
This Christmas as we worship our newborn King with family and friends, we would also like to share some of the beautiful Christmas traditions and celebrations of our Hmong brothers and sisters. In Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, the city comes alive with Christmas lights and decorations from November through December. People say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Christmas” even though they have little idea that this holiday celebrates the birth of the world’s Savior, Jesus Christ. They celebrate Christmas as a winter festival from the world’s dominant Western culture.
But in the Hmong Christian community, they understand the true meaning of Christmas. They use some of the same decorations and lights as those who celebrate Christmas as a winter festival, however, they rejoice to know Jesus as the Light of the World who came to redeem all sinners. Their Christmas celebrations give thanks to God for the gift of his Son and celebrate the news announced by God’s angel: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
In early December, most Hmong Fellowship churches plan Christmas celebrations that include several choirs. The older generation sings traditional Hmong Christmas hymns, while the younger generation sings more contemporary songs, including ones familiar to WELS members. Church leaders also help the children perform a skit featuring a part of the Christmas account from Matthew or Luke. These words help the congregation remember the angel’s proclamation of good news to the shepherds and the visits of the shepherds and wise men to the baby Lord Jesus.
To share their Christmas joy, some congregations purchase small gifts for every member: a bag of candy or even new clothes for children. They give food or clothing to neighbors. Some larger congregations may even butcher a cow and invite the entire community to a feast in celebration of Jesus’ birth. In this way, many unbelievers will hear the Christmas story.
After the many joy-filled Christmas celebrations at church and in the community, Hmong families gather in their homes for Christmas dinner. They share and open Christmas gifts, and after midnight, the head of the family prays for and blesses the family and reads the Christmas accounts. The family often sings Christmas songs and gives thanks to the Lord for blessing them as the year comes to a close.
As you gather with family and friends this Christmas and give thanks for the priceless gift of Jesus, please pray for our Hmong Fellowship Church brothers and sisters. Ask God to continue to bless our outreach to the Hmong in Vietnam and consider a gift of support for these ongoing efforts.
Merry Christmas and God’s peace from the missionaries to the Hmong in Vietnam!
Rev. Bounkeo Lor and Rev. Joel Nitz