Yesterday I introduced you to Ken Baker, an Awana Commander at East Brandywine Baptist Church in Pennsylvania who has transformed into Santa. Recently I interviewed him and below is a portion of that interview.
How do you answer people that flat-out say that Santa is Satan and evil?
Santa is not evil by any means. He was actually a patron saint of the Catholic church (Saint Nicholas) who because of what Jesus did for him in his life felt that it was the duty of a Christian to take care of the less fortunate. He began to secretly leave gold coins in the homes of fathers who could NOT afford a dowry so that they could marry their daughters into good situations and away from things like slavery, prostitution and bad marriages.
One of the things I love to do is come out to churches and share the history of Santa in first person (similar to a testimony) and share how we got the mythical Santa we have today (goes up and down chimneys, knows everything, etc.) from a Christian man who was spurred by the love of Christ to be a secret gift-giver. There is a lot of culture (from all areas of the world) that has influenced the man we call Santa in the United States today – all that helped in pushing him farther from Christ and more in line with the world.
Are you concerned that you are promoting a falsehood taught to children by parents and our culture?
The idea that this is a falsehood comes from the way culture has influenced who Santa is. I tell everyone that asks me about Santa that I am carrying on the principles set forth by a person many years ago. I pray that with Santa being promoted in the way he was – a Christian, God fearing, Follower of Jesus Christ; that we can change the way we teach our children about the guy in the red suit.
The children in my Awana club know me as Mr. Baker and that I have a job being a Santa Claus – that I portray a person who lived many years ago and that we are to do the same thing as Christians – imitate Christ!!! ….
It is my hope that I can get the chances to educate parents on who Santa was (and is…..) and that we can incorporate him into our Christian view of Christmas and point our children back to Jesus Christ. That is the best part of my “job” as a Santa!!!
How has “being Santa” helped you as you minister to children and strive to reach them for Jesus?
Mostly everyone in my neighborhood knows me as Santa…. when I am walking my dog, driving my car, going shopping – I get chances to talk with others about things involving Christmas and Santa – all opportunities to get into a spiritual discussion and chances to share the Gospel.
The children in my Awana club are probably only a few in the USA that can say that “Santa” is their Commander. I am hoping that God will use this to draw their friends to visiting Awana and seeing for themselves if it is true. Then, I will be able to share Christ with them and provide chances for them to trust in His gift of Salvation. Who better to give the gift of eternal life (other than God) then Santa Claus?
The other neat thing is that just by being a Santa, I can reinforce the ideals that the Bible teaches (looking after the needy, taking care of others, loving others, sharing with others, etc.) as I get chances to share with children both in Awana and outside the walls of my church.
How do the children in your club react when they see that “Santa” is their Awana Commander?
For many, they knew it was coming as I contacted all my parents ahead of time to tell them I decided to do this. I told them that my response to any child that asks me if I am Santa Claus would be “I got a job as Santa Claus and that I have the joy of being able to bring Christmas to others all the time” (or something along that lines). When club started, I actually had no children come to me and ask since I took the time to address it beforehand so that parents can handle it the way they want to.
For any visitors that come to club, they will see me as Commander Baker (I wear either blue shorts (in summer), long legged black jeans (colder times) and my yellow Commander shirt) so I just look like an old man to them. I then always make sure to connect with the parents (if I can) to explain to them what I do so that they can address it with their child as they see fit.
Share anything else about why you became Santa, sharing faith through being Santa, etc.
One of the things that I had laid on my heart is just how much of a Christian the first Santa was. I did not know all of the history that I learned as I attended the International University of Santa Claus (YES – there is a school for Santas) and how much our world has gotten away from that.
My vision went from “how can I make money as a Santa” to “how can I best spread the news of Christmas and it’s true meaning as a Santa”. God clearly gave me some great avenues to use where I can accomplish that…
You can find more information about how he shares Jesus with others as Santa on his website at www.iwannasanta.com