I remember the anticipation that filled the air when my mom began to decorate for the fall season. The scented candles and homemade wreaths indicated that our favorite time of the year was approaching. We didn’t have fancy decorations by any means, but the tiny pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn dispersed throughout made our house feel like a home. The decoration my brother and I loved the most, though, was a ragged little scarecrow dish we used every year. My mother would faithfully keep it filled with candy corn until it was time to pack it up and decorate for Christmas.
The year I married, I actually found a little scarecrow dish similar to the one I grew up with. Even though I had no children at the time, I didn’t hesitate to buy it. For eleven years now, I have followed in my mother’s footsteps as I place it on my kitchen counter and fill it with candy corn to signal the season of thankfulness.
However, this year was different. In the chaos of chasing three lively boys and comforting a brand-new crying baby, I managed to somewhat decorate for fall but failed to fill my scarecrow with candy corn. Truthfully, the candy corn was the least of my worries and I didn’t think the boys would ever notice.
One Sunday afternoon, my aunt and uncle came to visit our new addition and also came bearing gifts for the older boys as well. In their goody bags was candy corn! Their little faces lit up as they raced to the kitchen to combine their candy corn in the empty scarecrow. My heart was blessed in that moment as I realized that a seemingly insignificant tradition was actually very important to them.
For nine years now, my husband and I have worked to create other traditions that our children will cherish. For instance, we list things we are thankful for on our “thankful pumpkin” throughout the month of November, being careful that no one repeats something already listed. On Thanksgiving night, we camp out in the living room and watch Christmas movies until we fall asleep. We have a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve and the list goes on and on. But, our most favorite and important tradition began just last year.
In a desperate attempt to battle our children’s entitlement mentality and take their focus off of gifts during the holidays, we decided to make the Great Commission our Christmas mission. Due to finances, it was impossible for us to cross an ocean to “go ye therefore and teach all nations.” However, the more we studied as a family, the more we understood the original language is actually more accurately translated “as you go” in English. This means we should be disciple makers as we go about our daily lives at school, work, in the post office, or even the pharmacy. Everywhere we go, our priority should be sharing Jesus.
As we geared up for this mission, we decided to use the AFA Keep Christ in Christmas wristbands as a witnessing tool. Each member of our family had 25 wristbands and our plan was to wear one and share at least one a day until Christmas.
Sadly, at that point, it wasn’t a common occurrence for our children to see us adamantly and purposefully share Jesus during our daily routines. My husband and I were greatly convicted about our lack of spreading the gospel and deliberately ministering to those in need. We had to step out of our complacent comfort zones and teach our children what witnessing looked like. Our eyes were opened to how many broken people we rub elbows with every day, but rarely take the time to notice, much less see their desperate need for a Savior.
Once the boys began to share wristbands, their courage amazed us as they fearlessly and passionately shared Jesus with friends, family, busy shoppers, lonely elderly people, stressed cashiers, rude waitresses, judgmental peers, distracted store owners, and the sick and hurting. Though many were unappreciative and confused by the free gift and reminder of the true reason for the season, our boys displayed the “faith of a child” and met their criticism with the love of Christ. Unlike us, they never worried about what others would think of them or how they would respond. With innocence and purity, they learned firsthand what Jesus meant when he said, “whoever listens to you, listens to me; whoever rejects you, rejects me” (Luke 10:16). We were blessed as they saw no difference in age, race, religion, or social status. They saw past the sins of men and boldly shared the greatest gift in all the world. We realized very quickly that they were actually teaching us!
Every night we listed each person on a Keep Christ in Christmas canvas that we painted. We discussed our divine appointments of the day and what we had learned from them. Then we prayed over each one. Day by day, we were changed as joy filled our hearts and our home and compassion for the lost became the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration.
Our 2018 canvas is painted and our family is preparing for our greatest and most loved Christmas tradition. My prayer is that our young men will carry this tradition throughout the year and onto the next generation to come. Our gifts on this earth will fade, but just imagine the reward in seeing just one life touched by a Keep Christ in Christmas wristband in Heaven.
Please order your wristbands today while there’s still time. “As you go” about this busy season, join us in the fight to Keep Christ in Christmas and may your heart be blessed as this tradition becomes a beloved treasure. Imagine what the world could look like, if Christians sincerely celebrated Christmas.
“If we truly believe He’s coming, we don’t need our heads in the clouds of prophecy, we need our feet on the sidewalks of soul winning.” -Dr. Adrian Rogers