HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM (HOE-chee-men) – It’s a common sight in this city: a neighborhood restaurant that in the evenings takes on the atmosphere of a bar or nightclub. Scantily clad waitresses hired by beer distributors move from table to table, encouraging drink orders. The music is loud and lively, while televisions play any available soccer match. Co-workers and friends gather to drink, many to the point of intoxication. In one corner, an altar with idols and offerings to spirits can be found. But starting around the beginning of December, a new feature appears. Several feet tall and covered in aluminum foil, a creche is built. Statues of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus are added. Flashing colored lights give the entire scene an eerie feel. Years of colonialism and centuries of Catholic influence have laid a cultural foundation for the celebration of Christmas. Asking the patrons or waitresses about the meaning of the holiday or the creche yields scant results. Syncretism and persistent worship of spirits have left the holiday devoid of meaning or understanding for most. Still, their awareness gives reason to hope. Please earnestly pray that this can be used as a bridge to share the true hope found in God’s sending His Son, Jesus, as Savior of the world. Pray for opportunities to share Christmas-themed Gospel materials, for believers to be bold in telling their family and friends about the true meaning of the holiday, and for Christmas parties to draw seekers who will place their faith in Jesus Christ alone.
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