Join us

Christmas: Creating shared spaces this festive season

How a shared meal can show our neighbours that Emmanuel changes everything

Recently, I arranged to meet a close contact of mine who was going through some very challenging marital issues. As I listened intently, I couldn’t help but wonder how she was getting through the overwhelming trials in her life. As a Christian, I know that whatever lies before me, God is with me. His presence resides in me, and He is my rock and my strength. My contact on the other hand, as an ordained Buddhist, didn’t have Jesus in her life. 

Before we parted company, I asked how her Buddhist faith was helping her in the midst of these trials. Her answer, that she benefited from good friendships in her faith community and experienced a certain level of peace on Buddhist retreats, not only confirmed what I already knew, but alerted me to what we as Christians often take for granted. Close community is always important, and the moments she spent at retreat centres clearly brought some respite, but life was clearly tough because she was having to deal with its pressures and challenges in her own strength.

Over the ensuing days, the conversation made me reflect on an component in how we do cross-cultural mission. As someone who came to faith from a Hindu background, I am aware of some of the barriers and misconceptions those of other faiths have with Christianity, and we certainly need to be aware of them. But the key thing we can overlook in our engagement with those of other faith backgrounds is simply sharing the profound intimacy we have with our loving Father, our God who is with us and for us. The truth that God is present, and that in Christ He is to be experienced every day, is far more radical than we realise. For those of other religions, like my Buddhist contact, god’ is not like this. What can be more profound and simpler, then, in reaching those of other faiths than sharing our personal experiences of Christ and creating opportunities for them to meet Him too? And what better way can there be to do this than building friendships around food at Christmas?

When we come together to eat, trust grows and deeper conversations occur. It was typically around food that Jesus spoke to those desperately in need of a saviour. Why? Because the table brought commonality around a shared meal where enjoyment of the human need to eat created space for conversation to go beyond physical needs to the spiritual. 

For many Christians, evangelism is a daunting task. The Bible says we must go’ and make disciples of all nations – but for many this fills them with utter dread. This largely stems from a misunderstanding of the word go’. Yes, we are to reach out to other faith communities, but that doesn’t mean we need to always leave our space to enter theirs. Go’ can also mean inviting people into our homes and churches and making these shared’ spaces as we build genuine friendships around sharing one another’s food. Inviting people to a Christmas meal offers a natural opportunity to ask them about their religious and cultural feasts, and then to share the wonderful truths behind our festive celebrations.

The table provides time and space to nourish deeper relationships around common needs. And as people come nearer to us, they also come nearer to the God who is in us, and opportunities arise for God to reveal Himself through us. Clearly, we can’t convert anyone, only God can; only He can reveal how He is with us thanks to the Christ-child in the Christmas manger. Our role is to create spaces where God can reveal and convict; as conduits of the Holy Spirit, what can be easier than doing this around Christmas treats as we come together and simply eat.


During Advent, we’re exploring​Emmanuel, God is with us’ — how the presence of God shapes the work that the Evangelical Alliance cares so passionately about, mission, public leadership, public policy, and how this is all made possible by the generosity of the church. We hope that you’ll join us and in this Christmas celebration as we look forward to more of God with us in the year ahead.

Christmas pack card image

About the author

Manoj began his career as a teacher before turning to writing, including a Bafta award-winning children's TV series My Life as a Popat. In 2003, Manoj turned his hand to business and set up a property company. But ultimately it was the ill health of Manoj’s two year old son in 2008 which was to prove the biggest turning point in his life. Christian friends set up a prayer vigil, his son was healed and within days Manoj, a born and raised Hindu, gave his life to serve Jesus. Today,Manoj heads up the South Asian Forum (SAF), which provides a forum for South Asian Christians in the UK to encourage, support and equip each other for mission, and to represent their concerns to government, media and the wider Church. Manoj also runs Instant Apostle publishing house.

See more from Manoj Raithatha

You are already subscribed to our mailing list.

Please confirm your subscription in the email we have sent you.

By signing up you agree to our Data Protection Statement