A piece that has especially stuck with me was this Scottish carol, "What Strangers are These?" The first two verses are typically Christmas, the babe in the manger, shepherds and magi, adoring their King, Jesus the Savior. It is the third verse that haunts me.
Who are these that march from death unto life?
These are they who love Jesus the Christ Child.
And how do they triumph o'er the gates of hell?
Through the grace of him, Jesus the Saviour.
I think of all the refugees knocking at Europe's doors this Christmas, fleeing the horrors of Islamic State. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room for his displaced parents in the inn. They were poor and voiceless, lost in a crowd of nameless faces, far from home because of the whims of international politics. Jesus became a refugee as a small child, fleeing a paranoid King Herod, as evil as anyone coming out of ISIS. He had already killed his wife and children lest they threaten his power. Now he murdered all the boy babies and toddlers in the town of Bethlehem in his effort to destroy a child who had done him no harm, whose Kingdom was not of this world.
Among today's refugees are Christians whose ancestors embraced the Way two thousand years ago and have lived along side their Muslim neighbors for generations. If anyone has seen "the gates of hell," it is they. How do they triumph? Through the grace of that baby who knew the pain of the homeless outcast and broke its power on the cross.
He is born to redeem mankind from sin and strife,
To bring peace, joy, love and brotherhood.
O where shall I find him? Where shall I seek?
He is here and now, Jesus your Saviour.
The child Jesus escaped King Herold's plot only because his father was warned in a dream. I stand in awe of all the times God uses dreams to reach people from the Middle East today. "Go to that house and someone will tell you my words." "I am the One; follow me."
In Mozambique where we lived under the Communists in the 1980s, Christians in the north of the country were dispersed by civil war. Wherever they went they lived as children of God. They didn't bombard their new neighbors with salvation messages; people begged to hear and the church grew from a few thousand to more than a hundred thousand. May it happen again. May God's church triumph over the gates of hell, and may refugees by the tens and hundreds of thousands (dare I say millions?) find Him here and now, Jesus their Savior.
[Our mission is currently running a campaign of focused prayer for displaced people. Won't you join us?]
P.S. Here is a link to the conert video if you would like to enjoy the whole thing. :-)
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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