Celebrating Christmas in India

Rachel Chimits

Believers around the world are gathering together not only to remember the Savior’s birth and his promise of eternal redemption but also to care for the widow and orphan.

In preparation for Christmas, our partners in India hold skits where children in their orphanage, and any from the neighborhood who want to participate, have the chance to act out the Christmas story.

The play gives team members an opportunity to share the reason why Jesus came to earth with neighborhood children. Many are entranced by the stories of Christ’s birth  and Gabriel appearing to Mary. Then they discover they will have a chance to take part, playing the angels who descend to announce God’s gift to shepherds and their watching parents or guardians.

On the day of the play, families watch their little ones act out the Bible stories, and their neighbors will often stop by out of curiosity. In one village, at least 65 adults and children stayed to listen to the gospel story.

The Gift of New Clothes

Christmas is a time of celebration in India for many reasons. Generous donations to the school and orphanage during this time allow them to buy presents for the children and widows they help. They also prepare a party for the children with special snacks and then plan for children’s ministry programs that they will host in nearby villages.

“You would be amazed at how children in India—in general, of course—prefer to have new clothes versus jewelry, games, balls, or other comparatively priced items,” one of the team members working at the orphanage remarked. “Now, if you offer them a new bicycle or cell phone, that would be a different story. But when considering what is affordable for 37 children’s presents, most all of them will opt for clothes.”

This is also a time to give their staff bonuses in appreciation for the hard work these individuals put in to make the school run and make visits to local widows.

They also seek out pastors in nearby areas and assist them with providing clothes and supplies to the poor families in their villages. In one area, they are sending new clothes for 10 girls they have been helping support.

For many, these gifts and new outfits will represent not only the care they have been shown but also how God sees them with dignity and value.

Remembering the Widow

This year in particular, World Challenge is working together with our partners to provide new clothes for 175 local widows and elderly who are in need.

This particular part of India has been hit harder than others by many of the new government’s attempts to consolidate religions and political control. Persecution of the church has become markedly worse, so this season of celebration will be a welcomed oasis from the uncertainty and fear that many have felt in the last year or two.

The widows and elderly they are bringing these gifts to live in 15 different villages, many in remote farming areas. Some of them have no family living nearby, so the team will also spend time with them, share the gospel, sing and pray with them.

Most of all, they want to remind these dear people that they are not forgotten and are much beloved.