But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’ (Luke 2:10 NIV)
A young girl, newly married, heavily pregnant, and miles from home, gives birth to her first child in the stable of an inn. Yes, this is Mary of Nazareth, but today it could easily be Amal of Raqqa or Kadeja of Mosul.
Fear is not something we associate with Christmas. For most Christians, it is a time of peace, spent with family or friends, giving and receiving gifts and, most importantly, marvelling at the miracle of our Saviour’s birth. Yet for many in the Arab world, Christmas won’t be a time of peace. Not only is there war, conflict and social unrest. For those seeking the truth, there is genuine fear of isolation and rejection.
Do not be afraid
Just as the angel said to the shepherds, we say to those who are seeking the truth: do not be afraid. ‘There is no fear in love,’ writes the Apostle in 1 John 4:18. This is because God’s perfect love drives away all fear. It is a revolutionary message that God has given us, and it will be our theme for 2018. It is for every single person who seeks God’s heart and finds Jesus.
I have had dreams of Christ, but I am very fearful and afraid even to talk about Christianity. (Jafir*, Egypt)
Thanks to people’s generosity, we have been able to encourage and equip people like Jafir. This year, an unprecedented number of individuals from the Arab world region chose to follow Jesus, praying with one of our responders – almost 400 in ten months. Every one of them will face difficulties as they seek to live out their faith among those who are hostile to Christianity. But as they learn to depend on God, through his Word and Spirit, they will be filled with joy.
Will you support us as we counsel those who are afraid? Your generosity will allow us to provide effective follow-up to our media campaigns so that we can share Jesus – the one who drives away all fear. Your support will also help us to disciple new believers and expand our discipleship programmes.
We thank you for your partnership and pray that you will have a joyful Christmas.
*Name changed to protect identity.