What is Christmas? For those of us who are Christ followers, we’d quickly answer that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth. But for the majority of people in Japan, the more likely answer is that Christmas is Santa Claus’ birthday.
Marc and Yumiko Leis, who serve with NavMissions in Japan, know that most Japanese have never heard the true Christmas story. “It’s only a day they might get presents,” Marc says. “It’s hugely commercial here, with no Christ in Christmas.”
Imagine Marc’s joy when he was asked to share the true story of Christmas with 150 ninth graders at a local junior high. Marc teaches English at the school, so he is well-known by the school population.
“I used Christmas cards that many of our supporters have sent over the years to explain how Americans send Christmas cards rather than New Year’s cards like they do here in Japan,” Marc says. “Looking at the images, the students had no idea why there was a family with a baby in a barn, why there were shepherds, angels, a star, wise men, or presents. I used drawings Yumiko made to introduce the characters, and then storybook pictures to tell the Christmas story.”
Marc explained that Christmas is a celebration of God sending Jesus to live among men. “They could understand for the first time that God gave His Son, Jesus, as a present to all men. They could understand the wise men bringing Him presents, and from these two events, why we have the custom of giving presents at Christmas.”
As he finished, Marc held up a Japanese New Testament and a manga (comic book) version of Jesus’ life, saying these books could tell them more about Jesus. Many students came up afterward to look at the manga.
“The Christmas season is a great time to introduce Jesus to Japanese who’ve never heard of Him and to engage them to find out more,” Marc says. Marc and Yumiko are asking people to pray for “God’s Spirit to draw the Japanese people closer to Himself so that they would have a desire to find out more about Jesus.”
Between Thursday, December 14, and Christmas Day, Marc and Yumiko will host 10 events with children, teenagers, mother’s groups, neighbors, and other friends. They’ll show videos, bake cookies, play games, and continue sharing the real Christmas story.