Christmas is a very special season of the year for us as we celebrate Jesus’ miraculous birth. For Mary and Joseph, however, it was not an easy time, and they must have been under a lot of stress.
Newly married and still getting to know each other, Joseph and Mary were away from their home (displaced) and not living in the best of conditions. Then, when Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys two years and under in Bethlehem (see Matthew 2:13-18), they were forced to flee for their lives.
Jesus, who was born as a displaced person, soon after became a refugee. The little family left behind their country, their relatives and all that was familiar, with no way to keep in touch with their loved ones. Even with the knowledge that God was protecting them, it would have been a difficult time for them.
A similar story
Two thousand years on, many people have a story similar to Joseph and Mary’s. According to the UN, 68.5 million people are displaced worldwide, which is more than the population of the UK. Of this, 40 million are internally displaced, 25.4 million are refugees and 3.1 million are asylum seekers. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees, a total of 3.5 million.
With so many Arabic speakers now living in Turkey, we’ve turned our attention to this part of the world. Arabic speaking believers are also ministering to people in this nation. In fact, we are working together to support those who are seeking the truth and eager to grow in faith.
Esa* from Syria is one of 448 individuals who have made contact with us this year from Turkey. He got in touch because he wanted to know more about Christianity. He and his wife were both open, and it was not long before they made a profession of faith.
We were able to put Esa in touch with a local worker, and soon after their first meeting, Esa wrote the following…
‘A brother in Christ visited us and we all prayed together. I felt an inner peace and so did my wife. For a few seconds, it felt like warm water was pouring on me from my head to my feet. What a wonderful feeling! I wish that all people would wake up from their ignorance and repent to their Creator, who redeemed them through the Greatest Lamb to remove all of their sins.’
We praise God for the 19 individuals in Turkey who have given their lives to Christ this year, and for the 48 people who have welcomed a visit from a local believer. Being away from home has been painful, but it has drawn them to the Saviour. Perhaps knowing that Jesus, too, was once in a similar position gives them hope and strength.
*Name changed for security.
Image: Flight into Egypt, Eugène Girardet [public domain]