December 25, 2015

Visitors Flock to Adventist Christmas Play in Middle East

, MENA news staff

More than 900 people, including five Christian priests, attended a Seventh-day Adventist Christmas production in the Middle East that highlighted the biblical perspective behind the holiday and raised awareness about Adventist teachings.

Church members transformed the headquarters of the Adventist Church’s Gulf Field, located in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, into the land of Judea for the “Journey to Bethlehem” play, dividing its rooms into the innkeeper’s house, Herod’s throne room, a wise men’s station, a shepherds’ station, and the manger.

As a song service unfolded in the church sanctuary, small groups of 15 to 20 people were escorted through each of the rooms, where actors played, sang, and narrated the biblical Christmas story as it related to their particular station.

Groups spent three to five minutes at each station.

The production attracted a wide variety of visitors over two days, including a Roman Catholic priest, an Anglican priest, and three other priests from neighboring Orthodox churches.

The priests were so impressed that they asked that the play be extended so their church members could attend, too, said Laurice Tubungbanua, who directed the Dec. 18-19 production with her husband, Omar.

“I have directed many plays before, but this one was very special to me because it was geared toward reaching out to our surrounding community,” she said. “People were truly blessed, and the best part was that the priests liked the play so much that they requested us to arrange for another session so that people from their respective congregations may also come and experience the journey.”

Steven Manoukian, president of the Gulf Field, said a main goal of the production was to take advantage of the festive season to tell the real Christmas story — “the way the Bible explains it” — and counter traditional Christmas myths.

“This was a great opportunity as many people, Christians and non-Christians, in this region are in the festive mood and are open to things about Christmas,” he said.

The play also sought to give members of the surrounding community a chance to learn about the truth of the Adventist Church and to cast the denomination in a positive light, Manoukian said.

“While at the church, they then got to know … that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Christian denomination, that Adventists believe in Jesus, and His sacrifice as our only means of salvation,” he said.

Some visitors left the presentation will a new understanding of the biblical perspective of the Christmas story.

“It is my first time experiencing this kind of presentation, and I was amazed,” said one female visitor. “I was so touched as I watched with teary eyes. I prayed with joy, and I was thanking God for giving Jesus to us.”

Another visitor said: “As a result of this journey, my life will never be the same again. I was touched greatly.”

The Gulf Field, part of the Adventist Church’s Middle East and North Africa Union, includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and four other Arabian Gulf countries. This region is at the heart of the 10/40 window, an area located between 10 and 40 degrees lines of latitude north of the equator where more than 60 percent of the world’s population live, most of whom have not yet heard the gospel message.