A guest blog from Susan Barry, Christian Aid’s Church Fundraising Manager (and panellist at Greenbelt 2016).
Back in August, we were sitting together on a comfy sofa in the Christian Aid venue at Greenbelt, chatting to friends, drinking tea, and sharing stories.
In just a few weeks, our families and friends will come together in a similar way, under the tinsel, nativity scenes and fairy lights of Christmas. If we’re lucky, a fire will roar in the hearth, and a delicious meal will be roasting in the oven.
This Christmas, for an astonishing 65 million people, memories of a time spent with loved ones will be exactly that: a distant memory. Forced from their homes by the darkness of violence and fear, they’re searching for safety and refuge.
Here at Christian Aid, we’ve been reflecting on a passage from Isaiah in the context of a world where refugees flee their homes by the thousands, on a daily basis:
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light’ (Isaiah 9:2).
At this time of year we use this verse to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light who came into the world.
But taking a fresh look at the familiar words, we have been challenged to ask ourselves: can we truly celebrate the light of the world when so many are surrounded by darkness?
Kidnapped from her house in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angelique* was repeatedly raped by armed men. After being left for dead in the forest, some women found her and carried her on their backs to the local hospital.
Even then Angelique’s torment was not over: because she had been raped, her husband rejected her. She found herself homeless and abandoned to darkness again.
Angelique’s experience might seem worlds away from the life we’ve known ourselves. And we may never be touched by the same fear of violence. But the same sun warms us, the same stars guide us, and the same light can bring us each out of darkness.
This Christmas, another human being needs us to be a beacon of hope. You can join us as we shine the light towards a brighter future. You can light the way.
We are asking supporters and churches to #LightTheWay this Christmas. Can you give to our Christmas Appeal, or hold a fundraising event in your church to raise vital funds that could help people like Angelique? A church collection of £120 could pay for medical care and counselling for a woman who has survived sexual violence, helping her come to terms with her ordeal.
Behind the festive lights and flickering candles in our homes, the shadows remind us of the serious need that exists. You may want to dedicate one candle to Angelique and the 65 million people who are far from home this Christmas. Please pray for her, and for everyone working to light the way for refugees across the globe.
And please give what you can to our Christmas Appeal. You can join us as we point the way towards a brighter future; you can light the way.
Photo: Christian Aid / Mauricio Morales
*Angelique asked us to change her name to protect her identity