By Editorial Staff
Published April 21, 2008
On a frozen December night in 1970, a young Chinese boy discovers the real meaning of Christmas
ABOUT 26 YEARS AGO, A CALAMITY took place in China. It lasted more than 10 years. During that time, many faithful Christian believers in China were persecuted and put to death. My parents were among them.
Because of my parents’ background, I was considered a “black child” from a counter-revolutionary family. No one dared to take care of me. I became homeless and started to live on my own at the young age of 9. During the day, I helped people push their carts in exchange for money. At night, I slept in the street. If it was a rainy or snowy day, no one worked outside and I could not make any money. Hunger and cold were part of my daily life.
One and a half years later, I met a man who was more than 50 years old. I called him Uncle Shen. Uncle Shen was a strong believer in Jesus. When he found out I was homeless, he decided to take care of me. Actually, Uncle Shen had escaped from prison and did not have a family, so he asked me if I would like to stay with him. I agreed because I felt he was a very nice man.
Uncle Shen decided to go to northwestern China because he thought it would be safer there. Many places in northwestern China were very poor. Most of the people in the countryside were not educated. They did not know how to read or fix their machines. Uncle Shen, however, was a skilled mechanic, so we went to many places to fix machines for the peasants in exchange for our food and lodging. Since there were not many machines in any one place, we had to move frequently to find enough work. Otherwise, we would not have survived.
One day, near the end of December 1970, we were out of work. Uncle Shen decided we should go look for work somewhere else. We were in one of the poorest areas of China. There was no bus available, so we walked a whole day. Before dark, we went to a country inn on a rugged country trail, a single mud house on the roadside. Outside, on the wall, there were four Chinese characters – “Che Ma Da Dian” (Horse-Cart-Grand-Inn) – a grandiose name for such a simple place. The inn had four mud-brick walls and a thatched roof. The entrance was about six feet wide and seven feet high. The “door” was made of dry cornstalks. To get into the “Grand Horsecart Inn,” we pushed the dry cornstalks aside. Once inside, we pulled the cornstalks back in place to block the cold wind outside.
The inside of the inn was like a rectangular barn. There were only two oil lamps in it, one near the entrance, another near the farthest corner. In the middle of the inn stood a long row of mangers. On one side of the mangers, there were sleeping areas made of dry straws along the wall. No heat, no blankets, just some mud brick to be used as pillows.
That “Grand Horsecart Inn” welcomed both men and women. It cost 50 cents for an overnight stay per person. People who wanted to get a bowl of noodles had to pay 50 cents more. After we paid, we were assigned a mud brick and shown where we could sleep. No matter who came, a man or a woman, old or young, everybody was treated the same. On the other side of the mangers there were spaces for horses, oxen, and donkeys. It cost 50 cents for each horse, ox, or donkey because of the fodder.
That December night of 1970, Uncle Shen and I stayed overnight in that “Grand Horsecart Inn.” To keep warm, we snuggled together. I fell asleep quickly. Sometime after midnight, the sound of the animals woke me up. Because it was so cold, I couldn’t fall back to sleep again. Unconsciously, I started to think about my parents. My mind overflowed with memories of when my parents were taken away; my father was tied up and beaten so badly, he could not stand up again . . . my mother was forced to kneel down and her hair was shaved off, her face was blackened with ink.
As I was thinking about them, I asked myself, “Where are my parents? Are they dead? When can I see them again?” I could not hold back my grief and tears rolled down my face silently.
I did not realize that Uncle Shen was awake, but he had felt my sobbing. Gently, he held my hands and tried to comfort me. We sat in the dry straw silently. After a while, Uncle Shen thought my tears had dried up and in a tender voice he asked me, “Are you still sleepy?”
I said, “No, I do not feel sleepy.”
“Do you know what day is today?” he asked me softly.
“Not exactly,” I replied. “Probably the end of the year.”
Uncle Shen said, “Yes, today is December 25. It’s Christmas morning. Today is the birthday of Jesus. But, do you know how Jesus suffered before He was crucified on the cross?”
He talked as if he knew I was thinking about how my parents suffered before they were taken away. Uncle Shen quoted from the Gospel. “They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again…”
As Uncle Shen recited these Bible verses, my heart was moved. From my parents’ suffering, I tried to imagine how Jesus, my Lord, suffered before He was crucified and how He died. Uncle Shen continued, “The soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood.”
At that moment, I felt my own heart was bleeding. “Jesus, the Lord of my parents and Uncle Shen, is my Lord,” I said in my heart.
It was early in the morning. Except for Uncle Shen’s small voice, the snoring of the other people, and the sound of animals eating their fodder, it was a very quiet and cold night. After a while – I don’t know how long – Uncle Shen started to sing a song, “Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright.”
Since then, 20 years have passed. For me, it is just like yesterday. I can still feel Uncle Shen beside me and hear him singing. I still hear Uncle Shen telling me the story of the birth of Jesus:
The poor carpenter Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem from Nazareth to be registered. They traveled about 100 miles. It was very difficult for them, because Mary was pregnant. They were poor, so they could not afford a good place to stay. That night, Jesus was born in a humble place just like the “Grand Horsecart Inn” where Uncle Shen and I stayed. Indeed, on this side of the manger, perhaps there may have been dry straw for Mary and Joseph to sleep on. On the other side of the manger, perhaps there were oxen or donkeys.
In that cold stable, amid the manure and the animals, the manger was the only clean place. The manger was above the wet, smelly stable floor and above the sleeping area on the ground, so no one could jostle the baby Jesus. The manger was the best place for the baby. It was on that night that the Lord Jesus came into this world and started His life as the Son of God, a servant of people, of whom Scripture says, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.”
It was on that night, in that humble place, that our Lord Jesus was born, not too far from Golgotha, where 33 years later He was crucified on a tree.
On that night so long ago, there was no Santa Claus, no bright lights, no Christmas trees, no jingle bells, no family reunion … It was a cold, silent, holy night.
The author was imprisoned twice in China because of his own faith in Jesus. He is now working in the U.S.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 3, Number 2
Your comments are welcome!
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)