“Wā sēi! Wow!” declared dozens of Chinese school children, spying presents that had appeared along with the mysterious foreigners. Every year local missionaries bring Christmas gifts to the children of this simple village, unevenly nestled in the mountains one hour outside of Kunming, Ch¡na. During each visit, the group spends a few hours with the kids doing holiday crafts, singing carols, and teaching them the nativity story. At the end of their afternoon together, the students are given the green light to open their gifts. These youngsters don’t even really know what Christmas is, but in that moment it doesn’t matter — this is more generosity than most of their parents are able to afford in a year. The children are ecstatic as they rip through wrapping paper and show off their new treasures.
“Is this really for me?” exclaimed one little nǚ háizi 女孩子 in Chinese.
“Yes!” replied a team leader.
“Yēsū ài ni 耶稣爱你,”he replied. “Because Jesus loves you.”
The girl’s brow furrowed. For a moment she seemed lost in thought. Then, a wave of relief came across her face, as if she suddenly understood the answer to an impossible situation.
“Well… Can I be a Christian?”
The team leader smiled. In the noise of kids eagerly unwrapping their presents and shouting with glee, the message of God’s grace and mercy reached one of His little lambs. Though surrounded by toys and goodies, and though spiritually young, this child understood the greater gift of Christ and His selfless love.
Because of this love -- because of the birth and death of His Son -- the kingdom of God belongs to children such as these.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.