OPEN DOORS is an international ministry serving persecuted Christians and Churches throughout the World.
I have just received their November 2014 magazine and I feel drawn to quoting from the Editorial.
“Christmas is a time to celebrate, meet the family and worship the Lord. It’s a time for meals, decorations and presents.
But for some of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world, none of this is possible. I think of persecuted Christians in the Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria. What can they look forward to when there is no room for them – and no silent night?
Christmas used to be a time of big celebrations in Syria, when Christians would go out and even distribute Christian literature. But that was before the war. It won’t be like that this year. The situation is becoming worse.
It is not safe in Damascus. People don’t sleep at night. Before the war, we had the best Christmas in the world. We had freedom, but now I think no one is in the mood for singing in the streets. In most of the Christian houses there is sadness; many lost relatives”.
Syrian Christian, Hanna, says, “For sure, God is with us, all the days of this war. God hears our prayers, God is good. That doesn’t change during all the shooting and bombing. Around 25% of Syria’s Christians have left the country, but the churches are not empty.
New people are always attending church, interested in the gospel, and comforted by the message.
And the church is making room for them, doing its best to be a place of encouragement, so there will be presents for the children and something extra for those who have lost their homes.”
“Every year of this war, “says Hanna, “we said that things would change and would get better. To be honest, humanly speaking, I see no hope for 2015, but I know that God is there.
He is moving things and He holds the coming year. I trust Him.”
Hanna asks us to keep speaking up for the safety of Christians, to make room for them in our prayers.
“Pray for an end to the bloodshed, for the broken ones, for encouragement. Without prayer we would all be dead by now!”
It’s not easy for us, living in the relative security of a safe environment, to hear such words as we plan our Christmas celebrations. But that is exactly why Jesus came, ‘to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear (Luke 1:74).
Zechariah celebrated because he could see the Lord redeeming His people. He could see hope, rescue, forgiveness and mercy coming to ‘shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace‘ – which is exactly what Hanna, and all our persecuted Christian family, are praying for this Christmas.
Let’s join them – by making room for them within all our hearts.
With many peaceful blessings