December in Saudi Arabia is like any other month. It does not stand apart, nor does it boast any major holidays. The only time of reverence for our Muslim family was during the months of Ramadan (usually in the summer) and then our favorite times of the year – celebrating Eid (either Eid al Adha [festival of the Sacrifice] or Eid al Fitr [festival of the breaking of fast or lesser Eid]). Neither of these events took place in December, so I was confused when my parents informed us that we needed to wear our nicest long dresses for a big party.
My father was a telecommunications engineer for the Saudi Telecom Company and my mother was a physician who was ahead of her time (female physician in Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s). My older sister and I were the only two children and we were very young. My sister was around 8-9 and I was 3-4 years old at the time. We had been raised in Saudi Arabia all our lives and were quite used to the desert and the call to prayer five times a day. Our lives rotated around the prayer call, along with the Muslim calendar.
Our whole family got dressed up in our fancy clothes and went to the Taif Intercontinental Hotel where there was a special Christmas party that included several Diplomats from the British and American Embassy. I had never been to a Christmas party before. I really didn’t have a clue what Christmas was, except for what I had read in my Richie Rich and Archie comic books.
As the party got underway, the American band wanted people to sing Christmas Carols. Being in a Muslim nation, surrounded mostly by older people & Saudis, they were not getting any takers. My parents had given us a small electronic piano that had several auto-song tunes. Two of those were Christmas songs (I knew that, because the song book said they were) – Jingle Bells & Silent Night (only the first stanza, mind you!). At the urging of our parents, we got up to sing Jingle Bells. After rousing applause, we were asked to sing again. So we went to the only other song we knew: Silent Night.
Can you imagine the room? Can you imagine two little Muslim girls, singing about our precious Savior’s birth in the heartland of Islam? God had a marvelous way of forecasting His plans for me that evening. Little did I know that 31 years down the road, He would place a call into my life that could not be ignored or reasoned away. He not only moves in the lives of Muslims, but He places His divine truth upon all of our hearts in marvelous ways – yes, even through a song on a toy piano.
Now that I am a Christian, I know all the verses to Silent Night. May we raise our voices to God’s way, truth and light in Christ Jesus, our Lord & Savior. Amen.
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from
Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King.
Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born.