Syria

‘The true meaning of Christmas’

Open Doors
Open Doors Weekly Email

The church giving gifts that really last

In the Syrian city of Tartus, Pastor B’s church won’t be celebrating Christmas with trees, decorations and lights this year. For many Syrians, the horrors of persecution and war have left many deeply traumatised. So instead of decorations, the church is celebrating Christmas by doing something far more sensitive and beautiful. They are giving gifts of love and sharing the story of Christ to those most in need.

“We celebrate by our church members bringing things to give to the children who don’t have anything,” explains Pastor B. “We go to the camps and we do a play for children. We talk to these children about how Jesus fled like them, and how God protected him the same way he is protecting them now.”

Every month, Pastor B’s church helps over 2,000 families with the support of Open Doors. “When we present the gifts, they are brought from the children in the church. This brings joy to the families in the church who learn that the true meaning of Christmas is to go and help those who are in need. This is one beautiful thing at Christmas.”

Please Pray:

  • Thank God for Pastor B’s church and other Open Doors partners giving joy to people this Christmas
  • That Syrians who are displaced or hurting over Christmas will know God’s comfort and peace
  • That the Good News of Christ will be heard by all those families in need who are relying on support from the church.
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“What I found with you, I did not find anywhere else”

One day, a Muslim family came to Pastor B’s church who had just fled Aleppo. The children were so traumatised, the son would bang his head against the wall and the girl’s hair had fallen out. With support from the church, they received trauma care. Now, they are restored. They are making friends and are settling in.

“We prayed with the mother and encouraged her,” says Pastor B. “She told us: ‘What I found with you, I did not find anywhere else and I want this peace. I want my children to grow up and to believe in what you believe.'”

Open Doors works through local partners and churches like Pastor B’s across Syria – in 2016 we were able to provide support for 12,000 families each month with both long-term and short-term support, including food packages and blankets, and trauma care and micro-loans.

Here are three ways you can support churches like Pastor B’s to bring hope to the Middle East this Christmas:

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With many thanks for your prayers,

Lisa

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK & Ireland

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Back To Front

Back to Front
The Preacher gazed upon his flock
And saw with something of a shock,
The rearmost pews were packed jam tight
but in the front, few souls in sight.
He pondered long when they were gone,
the cause of this phenomenon.
”Is there anything that I
can do to draw the people nigh?”
Can it be that Holy writ
has caused them at the rear to sit?
Than risk eviction in disgrace,
by sitting in too high a place.
And with these humble thoughts in mind,
they’re rooted to the pews behind,
hoping to achieve by this,
the welcome warmth of gregarious bliss.
Or were my strictures so severe,
they really didn’t want to hear!
Perhaps I, on the other hand,
should make my discourse rather bland.
In this house, it is not meet
to occupy a rearmost seat,
with drooping eyes, in sleep far gone,
whilst the sermon rumbles on.
Could we create some sort of slide
down which the worshippers would glide;
from sitting in the rearmost pew,
would be smartly whisked within my view.
If every other means should fail,
would sandwiches and light brown ale,
tempt them from their cosy perch,
and draw them to the front of church?
Don’t drive the Preacher to despair,
but hearken to his fervent prayer,
”To me in fellowship draw near,
the true and living Word to hear.”
(Hubert Eaton)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
With many peaceful blessings
Geoffrey

Don’t Hope: Decide!

While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me.

Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.

First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands.

For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?

“Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!”

Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me.
I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”

The man suddenly stopped smiling.

He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”

(Alex McKing)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Listen to God: A Lesson

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord’s voice. The young man couldn’t help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?”

After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o’clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, “God…If you still speak to people speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.” As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk.

He shook his head and said out loud, “God is that you?” He didn’t get a reply and started on toward home.~ ~~ But again, the thought: Buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn’t recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. “Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.” It didn’t seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, “Turn Down that street.” This is crazy he thought and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will”.

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in semi commercial area of town. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst of neighborhoods either.

The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.”

The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep.

He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. “Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.” Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don’t answer right away, I am out of here.”

He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man’s voice yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?”

Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn’t seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. “What is it?” The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, “Here, I brought this to you.” The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway.

Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face.

The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn’t have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.” His wife in the kitchen yelled out, “I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?”

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man’s hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face.

God is always speaking, just pay attention and listen…..

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

Sunday Reflections

Reflect on your life this morning. Count your blessings and see the grace and mercy of our Father God.

He has walked through every trial, sickness, troubles, sadness, sorrow, and joy with you. He was and is always at your side in the highs and lows of your life.

We arise today through His grace for we have breath to see another day.

Give thanks to God. He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Rejoice and be glad for all that we are, and we have.

This Sunday morning, give God all the glory for who He is and what He has done for us. Grace, love, faith, peace, hope, mercy, joy, happiness, and His blessings abound in your life today. Glory to God.

Go into His house with gladness and Worship Him today: our Lord is very good.

Whether you are on the mountain top or down in the valley, enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.

It is the time of worship. He is waiting. Let your lifestyle be an attitude of worship.

Be blessed and let the Spirit of the Lord be upon you as you rejoice in His presence.

Hallelujah

Praise be the Lord!

(Marlene Keyte)

The Philatelic Wesley

I have a large number of books about John and Charles Wesley and about some of the early lay preachers,   But in my researches for this book I have discovered a lot of information of which I was previously unaware.

Each stamped envelope – most of which have been specially produced and created by the Methodist Philatelic Society –  has a card inside with appropriate information about the commemorative anniversary being celebrated.

In many instances I have added relevant information to that which was already included on the card insert.

I know that some of the material relating to the Wesleys will be fairly well known to many people reading this book but I suspect that there will be various Ministers and Lay Preachers of the 18th and 19th centuries, of which you may never have heard.

‘The Philatelic Wesley’ includes 136 pages of fascinating information and 25,000+ words and provides a very interesting snapshot of life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

‘The Philatelic Wesley’ costs £10.95 (including postage) and copies may be obtained by sending a cheque for £10.95 to: –

Geoffrey Keyte
The Hafod Cottage
Blackrock
Clydach
Abergavenny
NP7 0LW

All copies will be signed by me personally.

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Refugees Who Ate Leaves To Survive Given Aid

Open Doors
Open Doors Weekly Email

Refugees who ate leaves to survive given aid

Displaced people in northeast Nigeria have been forced to eat leaves to survive, as a humanitarian crisis develops in the region. Since October, Open Doors has provided lifesaving food aid for 3,000 families – approximately 15,000 people – thanks to your prayers and support.

“We had to flee Boko Haram because they didn’t allow us to go to our farm,” said Mary Charles, one of those who received aid. “We had no drinking water and we didn’t have anything to eat. I thank God for this food aid and I thank the people who brought it. We now have food that we can give to our children. We didn’t have anything to give them.”

Please Pray:

  • For provision for the millions of people facing starvation in northeast Nigeria
  • For provision, comfort and protection for displaced Christians, who have faced discrimination in official refugee camps and formed their own unofficial refugee camps
  • For wisdom and strength for Open Doors workers as they support thousands of displaced families.
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Fleeing Boko Haram

Many of the families supported by Open Doors are from Gwoza, the city declared by Boko Haram as the capital of their ‘caliphate’ in 2014. While many areas have been retaken by the Nigerian army, the situation is still unstable.

Bishop William Naga, leader of the Borno chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said, “Only the bigger towns are fully under the control of the Nigerian army. The outskirts of these towns and villages in the state are not safe. Boko Haram is still in control of big parts of the Borno State. We cannot go back there now.”

Discrimination in refugee camps

Christians have faced discrimination in official refugee camps and have resorted to forming their own unofficial camps. Bishop Naga said, “They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will even openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians. There is an open discrimination.”

Stand with your church family in Nigeria

If you would like to do more to support our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, you can give a gift to provide them with vital aid. Every £34 can provide clothing and blankets to a survivor of violence in Nigeria or another part of Africa.

You can also speaking out on their behalf. Invite your MP to the launch of the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List in January, which will highlight the persecution faced by Christians in Nigeria and other parts of the world, and equip our leaders with the information they need to speak out on behalf of our persecuted church family.

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With many thanks for your prayers,

Lisa

Lisa Pearce

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey