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Oct 30 2011

“Halloween…an opportunity for Christ followers”

I would like to begin by saying that this is not an easy post for me to share.  I actually considered not sharing it…uncertain as to how it would be received.  

There are so many different views, opinions, and beliefs concerning “how we as Christians approach Halloween.”  So I need to preface this article by sharing this fact.  I am not an expert.  I am a simple Christian woman on a journey with the Lord and everyday I grow more and more as I learn to live my life surrendered to Him…to His Will…His dreams and desires for my humble life.  I want you to know that I respect the fact that each of you, as you read here today, are on your own journey of learning to surrender.  I want you to know that I respect the fact that we may be at different places in that journey…that the Lord may be leading you to approach this subject differently for yourself, your husband, and your family.

So here goes…thank you, in advance, for hearing my heart…and for your patience as this is longer than my usual posts!!!

My Childhood Journey…

When I was a little girl…my family loved to celebrate Halloween.  We grew up with the understanding that it was All Hallow’s Eve…the eve of All Saints Day.  We didn’t know that it had a history that went even farther back than that.  We didn’t know that it had its roots in Pagan religions.  My parents didn’t know this either. So we always dressed up as fun, cute characters or super heroes.  My mom was a wonderful seamstress and very creative when it came to costumes…so some of ours were really cool!  And I have wonderful memories of those experiences.  We would join with our close neighbors (3-5 families) and together we would all go trick or treating.  We never knew that something bad was associated with the idea of “trick or treating”.  And we were always taught to say thank you very much as we received the wonderful treats that our neighbors dumped into our pumpkins!

Fast forward life as a mother myself…

I remember my first Halloween as a mother while I was married to my first husband.  The warm memories from my childhood Halloween traditions were still fresh.  I didn’t have Josh until I was 35 years old so I had waited a long time to start our own family traditions around holidays!  I love celebrating holidays too!  So we dressed up Josh while he was a baby and took him to see our neighbors and my in-laws dressed as a baby jack-o-lantern his first year.  Every year after that we took him trick or treating around our neighborhoods.  Our friends at church were doing the same sort of thing.

When Josh was two, the church we attended decided it was time to start offering a neighborhood wide Halloween Alternative HUGE Party.  There were dramas sharing the Gospel of Jesus.  They gave out lots of candy and there had bounce houses, bouncy slides that were very tall.  They had fun carnival type games and gave out T-shirts and big door prizes that attracted a lot of people from the community…a lot of unchurched families from the community would attend each year.  It was amazing!  The dramas that the teens did were really good!  The praise team from our church was great and they performed contemporary Christian music in one area of the gym.  Hundreds of people attended with their children.  Men and Women who wouldn’t dare to set foot in the doors of a church attending this annual event in droves!

There was a wonderful presentation of the Gospel and there were LOTS of lives that were saved during those events.  And most of these newly saved adults and children would start attending our church.  I was in awe of the way that the Holy Spirit was moving!

Later, when my sons and I moved across the state to find safety from my former husband (it was a domestic violence marriage) we celebrated our first Halloween together by trick or treating in our neighborhood.  Our church held a Halloween Alternative Carnival.  We weren’t able to get there for it that year but we had a lot of fun getting to know our neighbors!  The next year we attended the town Halloween parade and a nearby church’s Trunk or Treat.

Fast forward to the last two years…and our new family with Will!

In early October of 2010, Will and I started reading blogs written by Christians that had felt convicted to not participate in any form of celebration or acknowledgement of Halloween.  This was the month that I learned more than I had ever known about Halloween.  I read everything that I could get my hands on and Will was reading too.  We talked about what we were learning and our confusion as to how to handle Halloween with our family.

Will had already known about the connections of Halloween to the Pagan and Satanic connections.  But he, a pastor’s kid, had grown up with trunk or treats and other events sharing the Gospel with the unchurched.  In fact, for many years before he married me, he was very active in his own church’s “Judgement House” Ministry outreach.  “Judgement House” Ministries are very popular in this part of Missouri.  It was new to me.  He believed that it was important to reach out to unbelievers and share the Gospel and that this was a great time to do it!  There were many, many people who came to know the Lord through this ministry while he was involved in it.

We had both believed that reaching out to unbelievers was very important during Halloween and the weeks before it.  I was feeling convicted by the articles that I read about not celebrating Halloween and completely separating from “the world” by staying home or doing something that didn’t have anything to do with Halloween.  After much prayer and talking as husband and wife…we made the decision to not celebrate Halloween last year.  Josh was in the public school in October 2010.  He was being bombarded by Halloween all around him.  We were upset.  We began teaching him the truth about Halloween and where it came from.  He was upset and understood why we would not be celebrating Halloween last year.  He missed celebrating with his friends but accepted our decision and our daughter Annie was with us that weekend so we had fun with her instead.

Fast forward to this year…this weekend!

When October rolled around this year I continued to read and pray and so did Will.  The Lord has taken us both on an amazing journey over this past year…we have grown and changed in many ways.  We do many things differently than we did a year ago.  We have both been challenged by God to grow and step out of our comfort zones in many ways.

Our decision, last year, to not participate in Halloween celebrations with churches or with our family of any kind was a beginning of totally separating ourselves from the world.  Now please…hear my heart.  We believe that it is important to come out from among them…2 Corinthians 6:17-18.

However…the more we studied God’s Word and prayed about how we were to handle Halloween this year with our family the more we were reminded of these teachings of God from His Word…

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who arein the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

 Will and I both agreed that we were not called to “celebrate Halloween” as the world celebrates it.  But we also both believed very strongly that we shouldn’t shut out the world and keep the amazing Saving Grace of Jesus Christ to ourselves!!!  When Christ is there is no darkness!  He is the light!  We needed to share the Light of Christ with our unchurched neighbors and community.  We could no longer keep silent!

Do we mean that we should only do this on Halloween?  NO!  The Lord has called our family to reach out every day…and we have started doing this…before this weekend.  It was the reaching out and sharing His light that began to open our minds and hearts to the fact that if we are doing it throughout the year…then why should we avoid this one time of the year?  This one time of year when people…total strangers…come to our door and greet us.

And this one hit us the hardest of them all…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)

Wow!  Two weeks ago, Will and I made our final decision.  We would not celebrate Halloween, but we needed to share the light of Christ on this darkest night of the year.  The one night of the year that people come right to our doors to greet us!  So we began praying about how to do that.

Here’s what we decided to do this year…

We have talked with our children about why we changed our approach this year and they are really getting into it!  Josh loves to tell people about Jesus!

Will and I decided to participate in the church outreach/event at our church.  We joined with our new church family in welcoming friends and guests to our church’s annual “Fall Carnival”.  Our pastor preached on the very verses that had been speaking to our hearts and many more!  He challenged us to Love in the “Backward way” (opposite of the way the world loves) that Christians are called to love…selflessly, kindly, and to let the joy and light of Christ to shine through us in relationships and in situations that are not easy for us…with people that are very different from us…to remember that Jesus loves each one of these people and we should love on and greet those in this world who are our enemies and believe differently than we do in the same way that we would greet and love on Christ!!!

I was filled with joy and peace and confirmation that we were doing the right thing!

We enjoyed a pot luck lunch and visited with people we hadn’t met yet after our Worship Service.  Then, we took the boys around to the games that the children enjoyed so much!  There were churched and unchurched families enjoying time together and we shared the love of Jesus with them.

We also wanted to reach out to our neighbors to bless them and meet the ones we haven’t met yet.  So we decided to take Sunday, October 30th, evening to pass out bags of homemade cookies to our neighbors (most of whom are VERY different from us in beliefs) with notes stating…

“This is our way of sharing the light of Jesus with you, tonight.  God bless you!  The Pershings”

This evening we delivered the “blessing bags” of cookies to our neighbors.  We met new neighbors who had recently moved in…we greeted people who are very different from us and that make us uncomfortable…with a smile and a blessing bag and a kind word.  They were surprised and taken off guard and thanked us for the cookies and exchanged a few pleasantries.  We were able to let one neighbor (a young couple with a new baby) know about the town gathering scheduled for tomorrow evening where a free dinner of hot dogs and chili will be served.  She was so relieved as money is very tight and she was grateful for the information so that they can go, meet people and get a hot meal for no charge.  Tomorrow I will be visiting her to see if I can help with the baby while they pack.  He is in the military and they are moving on in two weeks.  Visiting them tonight, gave me this opening!

When we got home, Will prayed a blessing over the families that we shared our blessing bags with (eight neighbor families).  He prayed for the parents, the children, their lives and their hearts.  He asked God to open our eyes to more ways that we can bless the people we met.  He asked God to show us how to better share the Light of Christ with them…to help us build relationships with them and love on them as Jesus would love them…and that we would be blessed to, when the time is right, share the Gospel truth of Salvation with them!

Tomorrow evening…October 31st.  Our little family will step out of our comfort zones and attend our community Fall Festival.  Several churches from our community are hosting it with the businesses in the community.  They will have games, food, many opportunities to visit with our neighbors.  The boys will have a chance to make new friends and so will we.  We will support this joint effort of the churches in our town in reaching people for Christ!

This is not the end our reaching out!  Will and I are even more passionate about reaching out in our community now than ever.  We will share more of the ways we are led to live out that mission here on Learning to Live a Surrendered Life.  These two days are just two of the days we have and are reaching out.  But we have learned that building relationships with these folks is key…until they know how much we care about them…they won’t hear what we have to say about Jesus…until they have seen in how we love them.

If you are still deciding how you want to handle Halloween…we encourage you to pray…read God’s Word…and follow God’s direction for your family.  We are not claiming to have the ONLY way to handle it…only the way that we feel called to live out our faith.   And to consider that this is a wonderful opportunity to reach out with the Light of Jesus!

 I welcome you to share from your own journey in the comments at the end of this article.  But I ask you to remember that this is from my heart…our journey and if you disagree with me and my husband’s stand that you are respectful in the way that you share your thoughts.  And that everyone respects the comments from readers who open their hearts with us here…from their own journeys…even if you disagree with them.

Remember!!!  

There is still time to enter the Birthday Week Giveaway!  It would be such an amazing birthday present to have lots of you enter this drawing.  It would mean so much to me!  The deadline is 9pm on Monday, October 31.  So be sure to enter now!

If you haven’t subscribed to Learning to Live a Surrendered Life, I encourage you to click here and sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or by receiving updates in your email so you can receive Exclusive Monthly Family Worship Resources. You can also follow us on Twitter.  And be sure to join the conversation on our Learning to Live a Surrendered Life Facebook Page.

Question:  If your family uses Halloween as an opportunity to share the Light of Jesus with your neighborhood or community…I would love to hear your ideas!  

 

Dancing at the Foot of the Cross,

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/2011/10/30/an-opportunity-to-love-halloween-outreach/

  • http://thehumblehomemaker.blogspot.com Tanya

    This is so beautifully written.. You brought tears to my eyes the way you revealed your heart, Mary. Blessings to you and your precious family.. Xo

    • Mary Joy Pershing

      Thank you so much, Tanya. I am so blessed that it touched you. God is taking us on a journey…one day at a time…one month at a time…one season at a time!

      Blessings to you and your beautiful family too!

      Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

      Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  • Roseanna

    I dont see anythng wrong with having a fall festival.. After all, Paul DID go up onto Mars hill to speac to the idol worshipers (pardon the shorted letter). He didnt say, “theres idol worshipers up there, I better not go”.. Whn he got up there, there was a monument in memory of “the unnown God”.. He used that situation to introduce Jesus. While I dont believe that we shld use the “halloween theme”, we can still use the opurtunity to witness to others. Ths is my tayce on it. Im still in prayer and will continue to be in prayer. I have not actually witnessed a chrch MAINTAIN attendance due to the fall festival. The Bible says that the Spirit draws and unless the Lord builds the house, the worcers labor in vain that build it.. Many times, the “honey moon” period wears off and the ppl whom were excited by the fall activity, loose interest and go bac to where they were. It all has to do with the heart. But anyway.. We arent taycing part in activities ths year. It doesnt mean that those who do are wrong, either.

    • Mary Joy Pershing

      I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this subject, Roseanna!

      You are right about Fall Festivals by themselves not keeping people. I've seen that happen too. But the church that I attended with the Big Fall event several years ago really stressed following up and discipling the new believers. And they did events every month. And reached out to find out and give a hand with needs in the family and had individuals and families that adopted the new believers and the church tripled in just 3 years. It was amazing. But it was all about reach out…sharing the gospel…and then growing disciples. Otherwise…its just an event. Make sense? :D

      You are a real blessing to me! I appreciate you sharing how Paul reached into areas that were not always easy to reach. The Lord loves all of us and is more powerful than anything in this world. I love that He calls us to shine His light and not live in fear.

      Thanks again for sharing!

      Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

      Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  • http://clanchrisdean.blogspot.com Dana Adams

    It is such an Amazing Grace that gives us freedom in Christ to live our conscience! May we as believers be as longsuffering and patient and tolerant of our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Lord is with us!
    We will be celebrating Reformation Day at the Adams household today! You can get a glimpse of what we are doing at our blog! http://clanchrisdean.blogspot.com
    Praise the Lord for giving you all a heart for evangelism! When we were in the city we would hand out tracts and treats when folks came to the door. We are in the sticks now and you dont even know Halloween is going on around here!
    Bless you all!

    • Mary Joy Pershing

      Thanks for sharing your experience and encouraging words, Dana! I hope you had a wonderful Reformation Day at your house!

      Blessings!

      Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

      Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  • http://www.everyday-sacred.blogspot.com Theresa

    Mary, I thought this was beautifully written!! May God bless your family as you listen to and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Love you!

    • Mary Joy Pershing

      Thank you, Theresa!!! You are such a blessing to me! God bless you and your family as you follow the Holy Spirit's lead too! I felt so much better after writing it! :D

      Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

      Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  • http://gypsiestreehouse.blogspot.com/ Mama Bear

    I enjoyed reading this post and am ever so encouraged! You really are servant's of our loving God. I believe as long as we are following the promptings of the Holy Spirit and staying obedient to God, He uses us greatly to bless others and He then blesses us with the encouragement to step out of our comfort zones. I know whenever I have stepped out uncomfortably or did what felt hard to do initially, that it turned out to be a big blessing to me. The more we do this, the more we lose that feeling of "I can't do this!" and it feels more like "I can't wait to do this and see what God has planned for His wonderful glory!" Thank you for sharing so transparently, the works of God in you and your family.