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Stories & Blog

A Manger Scene for the Skeptic

A Manger Scene for the Skeptic

ITALY — With plans for last year’s Christmas Eve service underway, Crossworld worker Sue took a break to walk around her neighborhood.
She saw her neighbor Giana putting up Christmas decorations outside her house. Sue had often stopped on her walks to talk with Giana about gardening, family, current events, and Giana’s newly acquired baby goats.
Giana openly acknowledged the fact that she rejected Christianity because of a negative experience when she was a child. “I have had nothing but disdain for the church, but one day I would love to believe in Someone again,” Giana had told Sue in the past.
Though Giana said she wanted nothing to do with religion, here she was putting up a manger scene in her yard.
Sue said a quick prayer and walked over. After exchanging greetings, Sue felt the Holy Spirit nudging her to make a request.
“Would you allow me to borrow your baby goats for a live nativity scene at our church’s Christmas Eve service?” Sue asked.
“Yes, absolutely!” Giana said, surprising Sue with her enthusiasm. “I’ll bring them myself and I’ll even stay to watch the program.”
On Christmas Eve, Giana arrived early with her baby goats and showed the shepherd boys how to lead them. 
The service began with songs and Scripture readings, then Mary and Joseph entered, followed by the bathrobe-clad shepherds and Giana’s goats. Kids squealed in surprise and adults snapped photos as the bleating goats walked down the aisle. The pastor gave a message from Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, then the service ended and Giana took the now-famous goats home.
A few days later, Sue saw Giana outside her house with four people Sue had never met. She walked over, and Giana introduced Sue to her friends.
“My goats were part of the nativity scene at Sue’s church on Christmas Eve,” Giana told her friends.
“Which church?” someone asked.
“This was not a Catholic church,” Giana said. “It’s a Protestant church, and it’s the only church I’ll ever consider stepping foot in again!”
Over the months since, Giana and Sue’s conversations have deepened as they’ve continued to share life together as neighbors. Now, almost a year later, Giana’s heart is softened toward the faith she once despised.
“Tell me everything,” Giana said to Sue just a few weeks ago. “I’m ready to listen to whatever you want to share with me.”

Praise God for the work he is doing in Giana’s heart — a journey that started with goats! Pray that he will heal her past wounds from the church and give her faith to believe in Jesus.

The people in this story are real, but some names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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