ST. LOUIS – Approximately 16,000 students are spending a big chunk of their Christmas break (five days, including New Year's Eve) attending a student missions conference. Most are Christian, some are not, but in either case why would they set aside typical vacation activities to attend Urbana 12 – a series of speaker sessions, Bible studies, times of worship, and more than 250 exhibitors?
"You say why come to Urbana on my winter break? I say why not come to Urbana on my Christmas break? I have the resources and God's put on my heart just adventure and a heart to get to know Him better in a different context," said Kathleen Ziegler, a student at the University of Alberta in Canada.
"Why not come and do that and see where He leads me and just have my eyes open to new opportunities," Ziegler told The Christian Post. more >>
President Barack Obama and the first family have, in years past, attended church services as a part of their Christmas celebration in Hawaii, but a brief description of the President's Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities doesn't mention churchgoing at all.
The commander-in-chief took time before dinner on Christmas Eve to make "holiday telephone calls" to members of the U.S. military during his vacation in Kailua, Hawaii, a White House press pool report states. On Christmas morning he and his family opened gifts, ate breakfast and sang carols together.
In the afternoon, the president and first lady visited service members and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii before enjoying a dinner with family and friends. The president is scheduled to leave Hawaii for Washington, D.C., on Wednesday evening in order to continue working on the nation's fiscal crisis, though the rest of the family will stay behind. more >>
Nigerian gunmen have killed at least 12 Christians, including a pastor, during raids on two churches after midnight Christmas Eve services in the latest attack on believers in the divided African country.
Police reports reveal that one of the attacks occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in the state of Yobe at Peri village near the city of Potiskum. Another happened at First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state, where a deacon and five church members were killed, CNN reported.
While no group has yet officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, the BBC and other sources note that the attackers were likely Islamist extremists from the Boko Haram terrorist organization, which has killed over 700 Christians and burned down dozens of churches in Nigeria this past year alone. more >>
A prominent leader within the United Methodist Church believes that pagan origins for certain parts of the Christmas observance are a non-issue.
Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of Worship Resources with the General Board of Discipleship of the UMC, told The Christian Post that using older pagan symbols is not the same as worshipping as a pagan.
"The United Methodist Church has no ritual for Christmas with explicit pagan grounding," said Burton-Edwards, who also serves as an elder in the North Indiana Conference of the UMC. more >>
While still an atheist and crime reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Christian apologist and best-selling author Lee Strobel says a story he covered decades ago about a "poverty-wracked" family and how they showed him the true meaning of Christmas through their actions still resonates with him. Strobel gave The Christian Post an exclusive on his "Making the Case for Christmas" story.
More than 14 years ago, Strobel authored The Case for Christ, a book about how as an atheist he first set out to disprove the existence of Jesus only to find irrefutable evidence for the Son of God. He then became a Christian. His Christian wife, Leslie, had been praying for his salvation all the while.
In writing about the Delgados – 60-year-old Perfecta and her granddaughters Lydia and Jenny – Strobel tells about having a yearning "to know Jesus" during his experience. more >>
Jailed Iranian pastor Behnam Irani, who was last month denied hospitalization despite his critical condition, wrote a letter from his prison cell days before Christmas, ministering to Christians in his country and thanking God for letting him share "very little of" Jesus' suffering on the cross.
"Despite the pressure and difficulties in prison, I am pleased to share, what is like a fountain, my Christian joy with you in the new Christmas days to come," wrote Irani, who is currently serving a six-year sentence, according to the letter translated by Minnesota-based Present Truth Ministries, which has missionaries and pastors working in various Middle Eastern countries.
"My brothers and sisters, I love you all. Christ has given you to me on Calvary. Even if I were sentenced to many years behind bars for the salvation of one of you, there would never be any complaint," said the pastor in his 40s in the letter, seemingly written to the people he has ministered to and Christian workers in Iran. more >>