Welcome to Christ!
Recently I was in a town bus going to visit a friend on the other side of Nairobi. I was reading “Miraculous Movements” by Jerry Trousdale, which was sent to me by my friend Bonnie Anderson. Next to me there was a Kenyan lady sitting. She would look to the book I was reading and then to me. She did this several times. After a while she asked me if she could have a look at the book for a minute. I agreed and handed her the book. She read and looked through the front cover and then took more time on the back cover. Then she began to look at me.
“Are you a Christian?” She asked me while gazing at me.
I said, “Yes.”
“But you look like a Moslem.” She continued.
I asked her, “Why do you think so?”
It was not my first time to meet people in Kenya who think I am a Moslem. My features resemble the features of the dominantly Moslem communities in Kenya. As a result many think of me as a Moslem until they know me. On several occasions when I introduce my self as “Adhanom”, people would say, “Al Hanom?” because they already had the impression that I am a Moslem and hence the “Al” prefix, which is common with Arabic and Islamic names. I wanted to know what this lady thought.
“You just look like a Moslem.” She repeated without further explanation, gazing at me. She didn’t use words to tell me the reason. But it was kind of obvious to me. In the past others had told me the reason, and I know it. It was because of my features and hair.
Suddenly she said, “Welcome to Christ!” and handed me the book back.
I said, “Thank you!”
Then she said to me, “Ok, I have reached my place. Bye.”
She stood up and looking to the conductor of the bus said, “Shukisha” in Kiswahili requesting the bus to stop for her to alight.
She alighted. The bus continued with others and me but her words “Welcome to Christ!” continued with me. On my way back I decided to check in the Christian bookshops I frequent to see if I can find a card with something like, “Welcome to Christ!” written on it. I checked in three Christian bookshops. I didn’t find one.
The lady welcomed me to Christ assuming that I once was a Moslem. Interestingly I don’t remember anyone ever saying to me, “Welcome to Christ!” To my best memory this lady, that I even could not recognize if I see her again and whose name I didn’t know, seems to be the first person to direct those words to me.
When I came home I asked Helen, my wife, if someone had ever said to her “Welcome to Christ.” Her memory was similar to mine. Then I told her the story I narrated above. When we came to Christ, even though Helen and I don’t remember anyone saying to us “Welcome to Christ” what many did to help us to be Christ’s followers was more than words. And we are grateful for all the Christians who have been part of our life in any way.
One of the famous stories in the Bible in relation to the birth of Christ is that of “The visit of the Magi.” You can read it from Matthew 2:1-12.
After seeing the sign of the birth of the king of the Jews in the east the Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the king – to worship him. They were seekers. As strangers, they lacked the details on the whereabouts of the child. They sought for help in Jerusalem. They needed someone to welcome them and tell them where he was.
The Magi while still seekers were overjoyed when they saw some progress in their seeking. And of course coming to Christ was a source of joy to them. When someone is seeking to come to Christ even the minor discoveries that lead him or her to Christ can be a great source of joy. Someone’s coming to Christ is a source of joy for that person, for the others who have come to Christ before that person, for the angels of God, and the triune God.
When a person comes to Christ the joy of that person is inevitable. The joy of God’s angels and God in heaven is also inevitable (Luke 15:10). What about the people who are with Christ, the followers of Christ? Do they rejoice?
Welcoming is an attitude that can be developed. And there are several factors that can affect its development, as would the development of any attitude. God wants his followers to be welcoming (Romans 12:13). Every Christian has the ingredients for developing a welcoming attitude. But it takes willingness and intentionality to develop it using the God given ingredients.
The Magi had an incentive that made them to seek the Messiah. The star that they saw in the east was that incentive. It raised their interest. Then they set themselves to seek the Messiah – the born king! Christians, as God’s coworkers, can raise the interest of people to seek Christ, and when people become seekers, Christians can show a welcoming attitude towards them and that can help the seekers to be further motivated to completely come and find Christ. Still after that Christians can maintain a welcoming attitude towards those who are new to Christ and that would help new Christians to be strong disciples of Christ.
Working to expand the Kingdom of God by making Christ known is the work of EVERY Christian. So as we celebrate the birth of Christ what can we do to help people come to Christ, and then help them to stay with Him?
Let us prayerfully seek God’s lead in this aspect and decide to act according to His lead on what we can do to help raise people’s interest in Christ, and help seekers to find and remain with Christ. These people can be neighbours, relatives, colleagues at work or school, etc. So, can we do something to raise the interest of someone to Christ in this season? Can we do something to help the seekers we might know to come to Christ? Can we be welcoming people to Christ? “Welcome to Christ!” are sweet words. Words are important. These words can motivate. It would be great if we could use them. And beyond the words we can also practically show our welcoming attitude. Join us in trying to do something special this Christmas season by showing your welcoming attitude as Christians. Let’s also keep that welcoming attitude beyond the season.
Well, “Welcome to Christ” dear reader and may God help you to have a welcoming attitude! Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!