Wait, watch and pray
Advent can easily pass by in a blur of busyness as we prepare for Christmas.
But it is also a time of waiting - for Jesus, our Emmanuel, the Light of the World, to break into the darkness.
This Advent, let’s choose to stop. Let’s make time to wait, watch and pray with our family in the Middle East and North Africa.
Our Advent Prayer Diary will guide you through this special time of year, with reflections and prayer pointers for each week of December. We have also included suggestions for practical actions you can take to make life better for people across the Arab world – and in your own community.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Read Advent Reflection
Pray for peace in Sudan and South Sudan, and for a deepening sense of connection and community in the area in which you live.
Take time to consider how your community might be divided. Think about what you could do to connect with people you don’t normally come into contact with.
Make a gift to SAT-7’s appeal to bring the peace and joy of Christmas into the homes of hidden Christians in the Middle East.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This week, as we stop and look for the light in the darkness, we are praying for peace to break into situations of strife and suffering.
Deep division has caused immense pain in Sudan and South Sudan. Against this backdrop, the Candlelight choir is a wonderful embodiment of harmony in diversity. With African and Arab members drawn from Orthodox, Evangelical and Catholic churches, it has proved hugely popular on SAT-7’s Keep on Singing.
Candlelight’s joyful, multiracial worship helps to build bridges, and the choir was recently invited to sing at an inter-governmental meeting in order to promote peace.
The people of the Middle East and North Africa are only too familiar with tension and conflict. But, closer to home, fault lines seem to be appearing between people of different backgrounds and world views.
What do you notice where you live? Are people increasingly divided by income, age, education or how they vote? What opportunities are there to express generosity and goodwill to others this Christmas?
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Helping children flourish
This week, as we stop and look for the light in the darkness, we are praying for children in difficult circumstances to flourish like Jesus did.
The Saviour, born in a stable to parents later forced to flee their home-country, aligns Himself with children whose lives are insecure.
Growing up is tough amidst the instability of the Arab world today. SAT-7 KIDS seeks to provide children with hope, affirmation – and the knowledge that they have a Father who loves them and will never leave them.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, the channel has helped many thousands of children – including Michael, who was estranged from his father after his parents’ marriage broke down. He was watching Why Is That? when its presenter prayed for the family at the request of his father, and the two were reunited.
The arrival of Christ, to save Gentiles as well as his fellow-Jews, has made family of all of us who believe.
This week, let’s look afresh for ways to be family. What can we do to help children flourish, whatever their situation?
Pray for children growing up in difficult circumstances to have all they need to thrive.
Think about children who have come to the UK from the Middle East. How can they be helped to feel part of their new community?
Order a copy of SAT-7’s “Bedtime Stories” DVD, designed to reassure Arabic-speaking children experiencing anxiety, and give it to a family or refugee project you know.
Pray that, just like Mary, God would give girls today a transforming sense that they are noticed, known and loved.
Think about the girls you know and the messages they receive from influences around them. What part can you play in ensuring those messages are affirming and life-giving?
Look for a creative way to express appreciation or encouragement to a girl you know this week.
He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
Helping girls find hope and purpose
This week, as we stop and look for the light in the darkness, we are praying for girls who experience discrimination to find hope and purpose in Christ.
Girls in the Middle East and North Africa are widely considered of lower status than their brothers. Their opportunities are limited and their experience of abuse and injustice is all too frequent.
But Advent resounds with Mary’s Magnificat, a young woman’s astonished song of love for the God who confounds expectations and sees those whom others overlook.
That dynamic is at work in A Girl’s World, a SAT-7 PARS programme for girls. Designed to show viewers how valued they are by God, it seeks to empower them by breaking the silence around issues that concern them. This message is transformational for girls growing up in a culture which demands submission at all cost.
Pressure on girls is increasing in all societies, manifesting itself in low self-esteem and high levels of anxiety. As followers of God, how can we show those who feel of little value that their worth in His eyes is “more precious than rubies”?
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”
Nurturing new life
This week, as we stop and look for the light in the darkness, we remember the birth of Jesus and pray for the nurturing of new life in the Arab world.
Mary and Joseph had the honour of being Jesus’ earthly parents, but Anna and Simeon also had a significant part in His young life. Their faithful fasting and praying came to fruition the day they recognised and affirmed the baby’s destiny as Redeemer of His people.
Pregnancy can be isolating and destabilising for parents-to-be in the Middle East and North Africa, in a culture in which superstitions proliferate and silence surrounds many issues relating to pregnancy and birth.
Seeking instead to empower expectant parents, SAT-7 PARS’ programme, Forty, provides information and advice for parents so they can make good decisions during pregnancy and birth, and welcome their child with love and joy into a new family.
Whether we are parents or not, like Anna and Simeon, we can pray and watch for the fulfilment of what God has placed on our hearts.
What hope or dream has God given you? What are your longings for 2018 and beyond?
Pray for all who watch and wait for new life in the Arab world, that they would see light break out in the darkness.
As a new year soon dawns, think about what you are longing to see brought to birth. Be encouraged by Anna and Simeon’s example to persist in your seeking.
Find a way to bless any expectant parents you know. Offer to babysit older siblings, give a gift voucher, or spend some time praying for them and for their child’s future.