Good tidings of gingerbread men

Nicole James | Arabian Peninsula

According to Beth*, a long-term OM worker in the Arabian Peninsula, opportunities to talk about the Bible with locals don’t always come easily. “You really have to be aware of the Holy Spirit to get that opening,” she said. “It doesn’t naturally come. They don’t naturally want to know about God or Jesus.”

Once when Beth visited local friends – six sisters and their mother – the women told her about an upcoming celebration in one of the country’s major cities. They wanted to go, but they needed to use Beth’s car in order to make the hour and a half journey.

“OK, I have a sedan, so I can only take four of you,” Beth told them. However, when she showed up the morning of the celebration, all seven women were ready and waiting. Unsure of whether her car could handle the load, Beth checked with her friend about her vehicle’s maximum capacity. They piled into the car: two in the front, five in the back.

On the way to the celebration, Beth’s friends wanted to listen to music, so they tuned into a local radio channel. “On this radio station, they mentioned in Arabic that it was close to Christmas. They talked about gingerbread men and ginger cookies,” Beth said.

Confused by the subject, the women asked Beth about the DJ’s comments. “Gingerbread cookies and gingerbread men are normal traditional cookies for Christmas,” she said.

“What is Christmas?” they asked.

That question was Beth’s opening. “I could explain to them why it is one of the most important holidays for us and explain the birth of Christ to them,” she remembered.

She cut conversation in the car short, recognizing the chaos caused by seven women talking simultaneously, but she told them that on her next visit, she would bring a book with the whole Christmas story for them to read for themselves.

“It was quite interesting for me that the radio…and gingerbread men…opened up the conversation,” Beth said. And since that car trip, every time Beth has visited the family, she’s spoken about something spiritual with the women. “It’s incredible, if we pray, how God opens the door for a story, even if it’s five minutes, how we can get the gap to talk about Him.”

*Name changed

Nicole James is a journalist, ESL teacher, and adventurer. As a writer for OM Middle East North Africa, she’s passionate about publishing the stories of God’s works among the nations, telling people about the wonderful things He is doing in the world.

Published: Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Credit: Nicole James
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