"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
With these word of comfort, an angel of the Lord began the long-awaited announcement of the greatest news humanity has ever received.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).
As we look around our world today, is there any greater need more relevant, more apparent, than the need for a savior?
- Our world needs a Savior who will bring rescue from conflict. Just ask members of Egypt's Christian community who found themselves the targets of violence and destruction when, in a 24 hour period, 50+ churches were attacked in retaliation for the government crackdown on pro-Mohammed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
- We need a Savior who will bring refuge to those who are bullied and intimidated because of their Christian faith. The recent kidnapping of Greek Orthodox nuns from a monastery in the town of Maaloula is just one example of efforts by militants to intimidate Syria's dwindling Christian population into leaving the country.
- We need a Savior who will right injustice. Just ask Anita Smith and her little son, Hosea, whose husband and father, Ronnie, an American school teacher and Christian with a heart for the Libyan people, was recently gunned down and murdered by unknown assailants.
In all of these situations darkness seems to be winning. But this Savior, Jesus, is showing up through remarkable acts of love, grace, courage and comfort from people - people just like you and I - who have found strength and power to love and forgive their enemies. They have, themselves, believed in Jesus as their Savior, and now are sharing this good news even to people who have done them wrong:
- Among the places attacked in Egypt was a Christian run orphanage. The attack left 200 children without shelter. In the aftermath, workers from the orphanage left this message on the exterior walls for those who destroyed the refuge: "You meant to hurt us, but we forgive you. God is love. Everything works out for good."
- In Syria, a number of ministries around the world are raising funds and responding to the Syrian refugee crisis. Ministries like Hope-Builders International, who through national leaders on the ground, are meeting the practical, day-to-day needs of refugees from the crisis - needs such as food, heat, and clothing.
- And, Anita Smith, the wife of Ronnie, the teacher who was gunned down by militants in Libya, has penned these words in an open letter to Ronnie's killers: "I love you and I forgive you."
As 2013 comes to a close, we at the Institute have recognized afresh our need for a Savior. When we read of the gravity and deprivation that is manifest in the many forms of evil and darkness that seem to prevail today, we sometimes feel powerless, and helpless - and yes, even afraid.
Yet, when we read the stories of love, hope and forgiveness in the midst of this great darkness, we are inspired to pursue our work with courage, boldness and strength, and to live out our faith and proclaim the message of this Great Savior.
Please join with the Institute in prayer for those throughout the world who are caught in conflict and are now targets of darkness. Pray that the actions of the Institute, and Christians workers around the world, will, like the angel that morning, "bring good news of great joy to all people. "
Let us remember once again the words of the angel: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Hear all people, everywhere - in the midst of this great darkness, there is good news of great joy.
A Savior has been born!