Written by: Steve Harling. Published on 18th December 2017
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV).
I recently had the privilege of traveling across North Africa and the Middle East with two of our missionaries. It was exciting to see them identify potential ministry partners and encourage our existing ones. Although there is limited freedom for sharing Jesus in this part of the world, we saw reasons for hope!
In the years leading up to the birth of Jesus, times were bleak in Palestine. Political uncertainty, economic insecurity, and religious oppression were the order of the day. Hope was in short supply. People had placed great expectations in political and religious leaders, only to have their hopes dashed time and again.
It’s been seven years since the Arab Spring, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests that took place across this region. Not much has changed since then, regardless of all the government promises and turnovers. People’s hopes were raised and then dashed. They feel let down by their leaders. For the average man on the street, hope is nowhere to be found.
Our radio partner in a city of 4.5 million people said, “It’s very dangerous to profess allegiance to Jesus Christ. Making such a choice would likely result in being alienated from your family, the loss of your employment and even the threat of death.” For those reasons, there are few known believers among the several million people.
However, our partner has learned that almost 10 percent of the population is listening to his radio station. Fed up with false promises and being disillusioned with their religion, they are looking for genuine, lasting hope. A growing number are finding that hope in Jesus and choosing to place their faith in Him.
We met a few of them. It was great to hear their personal stories and see the hope in their eyes! There may be thousands of secret believers in that city who will never meet another Christian. Our partner is convinced that there is a season of hope coming.
Let’s remember them—our partners, the secret believers and our missionaries as we gather with family and friends. And if you can, give to the crucial work that Reach Beyond is doing in some of the most unreached places of the world. This Christmas, let’s celebrate the hope we have in Jesus, together.