This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
I admit it. I really do not like October 31. I do not enjoy scary. Call me 100% wimp, but the scariest thing I have ever willingly sat through is Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and I had nightmares for days. Therefore, Halloween is my least favorite holiday of the entire calendar year. For me, it is the sharp thorn on the beautiful rose bush named “autumn.”
However, after having our first child, I discovered the innocent, child-like aspect of Halloween. With her first princess dress at 18 months, our oldest daughter fell in love with playing dress-up. In her mind, Halloween was a time where she could wear her princess dress outside with her princess shoes. All of her friends would join us, wearing their princess dresses too. Don’t forget the candy! If you are polite and say “please”, people give you lots of candy. This is Halloween through a young child’s eye.
Now, that little 18 month old is almost 9 and we have had to reevaluate how our family handles a holiday that is steeped in evil, yet has the potential to be redeemed for a holy purpose. That holy purpose is reaching people who live in the darkness and sharing with them the Light. So how can our families participate Halloween in a way that shares the Light and shuns the dark?
Halloween, by nature, is a dark celebration. But as God’s children, we are to be the light in a dark world. My children always dress up in a way that brings light and smiles to the darkness and scariness. What could break up the darkness, but a cute little preschooler twirling in a ballet costume? Or a little boy dressed as superman ready to fight the bad guys? Because we are representing the Light, we do not dress in any way that resembles darkness or death. Our home is decorated with the bright red, orange and yellow hues of fall.
As a side note, I do warn my children that there might be others in costumes that make them feel uncomfortable. I am vigilant to watch for scary things where I either distract my children or remove them from the situation entirely. My kids always have the option to stay behind and not approach someone who is dressed up. Aside from saying “thank you for my candy,” this is not a time to work on manners. In other words, if my kids want to run away from someone or climb into my arms, they have full freedom to do this.
As we are on mission to take light into the darkness on Halloween, a wonderful thing happens. Those who are lost and need Jesus actually come to you. This is the reason why I cannot justify sitting inside my home and hiding out the night of Halloween – There are lost parents and children out there, and they are coming to my doorstep. If I would only open my door, I can share with them the precious Light. This is an area where I am very grateful for the mission mind of my church home. Our church puts on a “Trunk or Treat” time every year. This is an event where church members line up their cars, raise their trunks, and distribute candy. Our church has the privilege of being surrounded by apartment complexes. Halloween is a great opportunity to reach out to the children within those apartments. The church members have a chance to talk with them and even put Scripture on the candy that is distributed. We take our children around to receive candy as well, but my kids know the main reason we are there is not to get candy, but to minister to un-churched families who need to know about Jesus.
My goal is to develop within my children a compassion for the lost. So, the Lenow family gets all dressed up in our happy, cute costumes, packs our candy with Scripture verses on it, and goes to our church where we will meet hundreds of children who do not know Jesus. During this time, we pray to impact families with the ultimate Light of the World. We also have good friends who are members of our church, but instead of coming to the Trunk or Treat at the church, they stay home and welcome their neighbors on their front door step. They know their neighborhood is full of lost people, so they pray that some will come to their door where they are able to minister to them in a way they haven’t done before.
Even if your church does not do an organized outreach during Halloween, you can have a night of outreach yourself on your doorstep. Simply entertain trick or treat-ers at your front door and take the opportunity to talk with them or add something about your church or a tract to their candy. The parents and children who come to your door expecting candy can be changed by a loving smile and a friendly attitude that gracefully begins to talk with them about a God who loves them.
My goal for Halloween is to redeem the day to mean something that can be used for God’s glory. Yes, the day has evil roots. But God can still use me and my family to spread light in a dark world. Halloween is not a holiday to be celebrated by believers, but an opportunity that is not to be missed to radiate into a dark, lost world the bright light of the Gospel.
Once again, this is a guest post from my wife Melanie. In addition to putting up with me, she diligently works to train our four children. If that were not enough, she also leads the One Heart women’s ministry at our church, Birchman Baptist Church. She holds a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.