The best man at the table

Abu Muhammed and his family made their second visit to Nazareth this past week, to celebrate an early Christmas with us. Bishara brought seven members of the family in the van with him, while one of the older sons brought the remaining children in a second car.

When we arrived at Bishara’s house, we piled out of the cars and headed inside. The children, eager to see Lubna, rushed in the door, then saw a few strangers, got scared, and ran back outside. Several other believers had come to help prepare the meal and host Abu Muhammed’s family. We eventually were able to convince the children to enter the house, meet the new people, and sit down.

We arranged several tables together to make one huge table, and we all sat down around it. Lubna and the women had prepared a feast of chicken and rice, salads, and sfeeha. Bishara prayed for God’s blessing on the meal, and then the chaos began.

At one point as we were chowing down on the food, I heard Bishara from the other end of the table say “We need some yogurt over here for the best man at the table” nodding towards Abu Muhammed, who was grinning from ear to ear as he sat next to Bishara.

After dinner, Bishara talked at length about the meaning of the birth of Jesus. As usual, Abu Muhammed nodded in agreement nearly the entire time Bishara was talking.

In the end, Bishara prayed with the group. He told them they could repeat after him, and several of them did pray out loud with him.

We then sang the four songs we have been practicing with them over the last few months. By now, they have learned most of the words and tunes, so they sang along with us, proclaiming “Together we magnify our Lord the Messiah, We sing we raise to him our praise!”

We also showed them two short films which were focused on the meaning and significance of Christ’s birth. While the family seems to accept what we say, it is still unclear how much they understand it. Because of that, we are always trying to find new ways to say the same thing.

After this, the children began coloring with Emily while Lubna made tea and coffee for everyone. In the end, we made sure all the kids got Christmas gifts. At the very least, we are quite certain that Abu Muhammed and his family have received the message loud and clear that we love them very much. We pray the rest of the Gospel message will sink in and really transform this dear family.

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