He loved the Chinese people. Yet, after 30 years of living in community with them, Dr. Goulter was put under house arrest by the Communists. Some accounts of his life record torture. At the very least, he was separated from the people he loved. Which was still torture, just of a different ilk.
After a time, the government released him on the condition he would take the next available ship out of the country. That “available” ship was heading to Madras, India. After he landed, Dr. Goulter wired his mission board for travel money to purchase a ticket to take him home.
While he was waiting, he heard that there were displaced Jews sleeping in barns around the countryside of Madras. At that time in history, during World War II, no country wanted a boat full of Jews. They had been denied entrance to numerous coastal countries except India and thus, they were stranded without homes or means to a living.
It was Christmas when Dr. Goulter decided to visit those barn lofts and wish these men, women and children a Merry Christmas.
Of course, they responded to his well wishing, “We’re Jews.”
He said, “I know, but it is Christmas.”
They said, “We don’t observe Christmas. We are not followers of Jesus.”
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The old missionary said, “I know, but what would you like for Christmas?”
Old men don’t give up easily and he said, “If somebody gave you something for Christmas, what would you like?”
To get rid of the old man they said, “Some good German pastries.”
Dr. Goulter now had a purpose.
He searched the city of Madras and finally found a pastry shop with German pastries. As the story goes, he cashed in his newly purchased ticket and took baskets of German pastries to these Jews.
Later, when Dr. Goulter told this story in a seminary classroom, a young seminarian sitting in the front row was absolutely incensed.
He said to Dr. Goulter, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus!”
Dr. Goulter said, “But I do. I do.”
Hmmm. Sounds like a God kind of thing to do.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for him.
Jesus, the son of God, was born to a young girl of no significance in a time of an oppressive Roman rule. The people prayed for a conquering king who would teach their oppressors a lesson. They wanted a powerful and mighty savior to free them from the chains of brutality.
Instead they got a baby ... born in a barn. Vulnerable, powerless, dependent.
They didn’t get what they wanted, nor whom they believed could deliver. Still God gave. He gave them what they so desperately longed for: grace, hope, love.
Why we do what we do is of the utmost importance.
God always acts out of love, because He is love. And God, regardless of our acceptance, acted out of His nature. He knew that we didn’t need more power, or more control or more resources ... we needed the affection of a good God. A God who was willing to come as a defenseless tiny babe to establish an eternal, worldwide kingdom of love.
That’s why Goulter went in search of German pastries and it’s why we go in search for the perfect gift at Christmas. Love compels us to do the crazy, the unpredictable, the beautiful. Truly... it is a Merry Christmas.
Larry and Linda Kloster sponsor this column.