>My family and I are spending our first Christmas in England this year. It is cold and damp, yet quite cheery here in Durham. It is interesting to spend Christmas away from the good old USA and away from the good old ACLU. From an American evangelical perspective, England is known as one of the great mission fields of our day. It is described as cold, hard, and opposed to the message of the gospel. It’s funny how you find things aren’t quite what you were told when you experience them first hand. I want to share two short thoughts I had this Christmas as I plan to come out of my office, put away the books, and enjoy my family. I thought these were worth sharing.
As the Christmas season began to ramp up here in England I was surprised to find them putting up Christmas decorations downtown in the city centre. What was more surprising was the message that was posted everywhere: MERRY CHRISTMAS! That’s right, Merry Christmas in huge lights in the middle of the city centre, and on the Gates shopping mall, and at the mall in Newcastle. It is everywhere! Not Happy Holidays, but Merry Christmas. My initial thoughts were, “Well, I am in the far Northeastern part of the country, and it’s pretty rural here, maybe its a local thing.” But what to my wondering eyes do appear but this message on commercials while selling their gear. On every channel it’s Merry Christmas! It is amazing, people here say, Merry Christmas and there hasn’t been one peep out of any watchdog group saying that this violates peoples rights.
Now you might say, “Well, Mark, you’re in rural northeast England, surely it wouldn’t offend anybody there. Perhaps that is why nobody has said anything.” I don’t think so. First of all, according to American Christians this is a cold godless country. Well, not any more than our own country. It appears that way at first but I’ve found that to be untrue. Our church is full every Sunday (an Anglican church) and the people there are the most genuine I think I have ever met. However, I don’t think that’s the reason why the message goes over well. I think it is the absence of groups such as the ACLU. Let me give you another example.
Last night there was a Christmas party sponsored by Durham University (Ustinov College Family Society) where all the families living in the housing complex we live in gathered in the Keenan House common room. Obviously there are people here from all over the world studying, most of them in finance, politics, and business. So, the family society is about 80% Muslim. Most of the women where the abayas and trail behind their husbands when they are out and about. And they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Anyway, my daughters, and two of their friends from Japan who are believers, wrote a small nativity play to present at the party. They asked the family society if they could perform, told them the nature of the play, and they gladly said, “Yes!” Well, the girls sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing, the First Noel, and many others and acted out the birth of Christ and told the story from the Bible. At least 80-90% of the people in the room were Muslim. Everyone clapped, and said they loved it! I was amazed. I thought they would get up and leave offended. But something was missing. There was no idiot fringe group standing around saying, “Your rights have been violated!”
One lady in particular, in my wife’s women’s tea group, keeps asking her questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. If this is a mission field it is not because of the Brits. They are not far from where we are.
It is truly amazing how groups like the ACLU and others are slowly destroying the fabric of our country.