I received this from a friend who has lived abroad as a missionary, and thought it was such a great perspective-check. May it encourage you to prayer and passionate living!
"To me after living in countries where Christianity is often overtly and officially persecuted, Christmas has some meanings that had not been as clear to me before. Christmas, being the only Christian holiday that many Muslims and Communists can locate on a calendar, becomes a lightening rod for many terrible crimes against Christians. You see, the leaders of nearly every large pulic organization that puts up a "Merry Christmas" sign in their place of business will get threats from Muslim and Atheist groups. The wimps will cave in. Here in the US we're just starting to get a tiny taste of what many Christians in the rest of the world live with on a regular basis.
Christmas, for them, is the time when...
--many house church pastors in China, Vietnam and other places will be put in prison.
-- large numbers of active Christians in Muslim countries will be martyred.
-- churches will be burned in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, and other countries that are moderate or chaotic enough to allow them to be built in the first place.
-- Christians throughout the world will be falsely accused on trumped-up charges.
-- North Koreans who won't bow down to the "Great Leader" will be exiled to prison camps.
-- Christian women will be taken from their husbands and forced to marry Muslim men.
Christmas is also the only day of the year when Mainland Chinese Christians have any true freedom to openly evangelize. Believers throughout the Chinese world, including Taiwan, do not spend much time celebrating Christmas themselves, but use the day for Gospel rallies and other outreach.
Almost all these things happen somewhere in the world every Christmas. Rather than waiting for it to be reported by Voice of the Martyrs or one of the other few organizations brave enough to publish the facts, let's go ahead and pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in repressive country. The first century Roman Empire was certainly not friendly to him. Like Communist leaders who fear any loyalty directed to anybody but themselves, King Herod feared the birth of this one prophesied to be king. Herod tried to deceive the wise men into showing him the place of the birth. "And when ye have found him," said Herod, "bring me word again that I may come and worship him also" (Matt. 2:8). Had they not been warned in a dream, they could have fallen for the deception. Joseph's young family even became refugees in Egypt to escape this cruel, jealous, and unstable king.
Taiwan, like the US, is a free country, but fear of spiritual opposition plays a big part in the lives of people there. Pray for courage for God's people around the world this Christmas. Opposition will happen in one form or another."