“Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your lap. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38
Suppose there was NO Christmas. No birth of Jesus. No Christmas music. No lessons. No everlasting spiritual meaning or love to exchanging gifts. Can you imagine life without this eternal hope? Until Christ came to earth, even most Israelites, the chosen people, were only beginning to learn about God.
While many continue to live like this, before Christ’s birth everyone experienced such a life. What was eternal? What purpose was there in this life? Except for Moses, some kings, Wise men (and women), and the Prophets, the Israelites certainly didn’t know, and a plethora of idols, statues, rules and other gods crept into their lives as soon as they crossed the Red Sea after the miraculous exodus from Egyptian slavery.
Yet even then, God was revealing His plan. Isaiah wrote approximately 740 years before the birth of Christ about the future Redeemer of mankind.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Isaiah predicts hope! And today we have that hope. The truth of the matter is that we, as God’s image bearers, cannot really live without the love and hope of Jesus. Jesus led a sin-free life and showed us how to live. He created a path to a resurrected life for us all.
So what does this mean for us to live now, with Jesus in our lives? First it means that we have the hope of being reconciled to our Heavenly Father. Second, we have a model of how we should act with love and forgiveness. We are specifically called to care for the poor and the marginalized. Third, Christ demonstrated the importance of sacrificial giving. So with Christ we have New Life. We have new behaviors, new love, and a new enlarged family. And a new call to care for others.
ARDF is living into these qualities every day, through carefully researched development and relief projects that spread the Kingdom and celebrate Christ. In Ghana, a vocational training program in the slums of Accra gives hope to young adults by providing a path to gainful employment.
It is a program that brings together young people to learn and become better people in the community.” — David Obisama, entrepreneur and beneficiary
In Lahore, Pakistan, over 75% of Christians are desperately poor. Many children are left on their own as parents die or are married off to Muslims. However, a new training school provides safe housing for at-risk kids. In an environment that is increasingly hostile towards Christians, this school provides a safe place for Christians to grow in faith.
In Egypt, the church is reaching out to Syrian refugees, despite intense persecution. The church, acting sacrificially on behalf of those who have nothing, has been a compelling witness to non Christians, drawing many to Christ and birthing new churches. On Egyptian national television, it was noted how Christians behaved when churches were bombed, by forgiving the bombers. “How on Earth do you forgive like that?” one witness exclaimed.
You can read more about the projects we are featuring this Advent and the work of ARDF here.
We are honored to be a small part of building God’s kingdom, thankful that we now celebrate Christmas. Please join us by celebrating with our brothers and sisters around the world with a gift to ARDF this season. May God move mightily in your hearts and minds this Christmas. May He bless you beyond your expectations and may the joy of His Spirit in you well up and overflow into the lives of others.
With every blessing during Christmas and into the New Year,
Canon William E. Deiss
Executive Director, ARDF