A man drinking in the pub in Belfast on Christmas Eve, with his partner, was watching two little girls as they ran around away from their parents. They came up to where the couple were sitting and the seven-year-old spoke to the man's girlfriend: "What's your name?" "I'm Mary," she joked. The child turned to him: "So you must be Joseph!" she said.
The man laughed. "Do you know who Mary and Joseph were?" he asked in reply.
"Sure I do. Mary was Jesus' Mummy and Joseph was his step-dad."
The man was thrown by this. He'd never thought of it before. Joseph, not Jesus' father, but his step-father? Who did that make Jesus? Why was that the case?
He got up from his pint, and with 'Mary' (who had no idea what had made her say that was her name), walked out of the pub... Round the corner, to the Evangelical Bookshop. There he told this story to the manager and asked whether the little girl had got it right. The manager talked with him about Jesus, his birth, and who he was, for a good few minutes. He gave him a gift of Lee Strobel's A Case for Christmas. "I can't take this!" the man said. "It's Christmas - gift from us!" the manager insisted. The man departed, leaving £5 'to charity' (the charity box beside the till comes into its own here) - and promising to read the book.
Praise God for the words of a child to a stranger in a Belfast pub, and for the witness of the Evangelical Bookshop, and pray that God would give the man faith to believe in the Son of God, whose mother was Mary, and step-father, Joseph.
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