The terrible horrors and sorrows of the last week have left us reeling with shock. An act of terrorism in Sydney burst upon us eight days ago. Then only four days later our hearts were pierced again by the unspeakable tragedy of eight children found murdered in Cairns.
As we come to terms with these horrific events, we are in danger of becoming downhearted. The flood of evil all around us, and throughout the world today, threatens to overwhelm us at this Christmas time.
But it is during these times we need to hold on to God’s promises for the future. One day God Himself will wipe every tear from the eyes of those who belong to Him and “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).
At the same time we need to keep finding ways to encourage each other. Here is the story of how two friends of the Canberra Declaration are turning tragedy into good.
Two friends sitting together were reflecting on the tragic events of the week. One of them shared that he was due to be in Martin Place for a meeting on Monday morning 15 December and would have dropped in to the Lindt café for a coffee. The meeting was postponed and he found himself instead watching the act of terror unfold on TV.
They were encouraged by how many times the phrase “my thoughts and prayers are with you” was used by Australian and world leaders and media personalities commentating on those caught up in this tragedy.
This led them to ask – how can we respond as Christians to this type of crisis. While observing that the hashtag campaign #illRideWithYou gained enormous traction on social media, they wondered what Christ followers could do at this time.
(A hashtag # when used indexes all posts using this tag into social media like Facebook).
So they decided to start a hashtag campaign called #illPrayForYou.
Prayer is central to our lives as Christ Followers. Paul encourages us to“Pray at all times” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). By praying we acknowledge our dependence on God and our trust in His sovereignty in every situation we face. We can pray for other people who love Jesus, but equally for anyone near or far. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Here is how you can join the #illPrayForYou campaign.
Use the phrase #illPrayForYou when you are posting online comments.
Offer to pray for your friends and contacts. Create a prayer journal, follow up those you pray for, and post testimonies on the Facebook page.
When you pray expect God to answer! Jesus said “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22).
In fact prayer could be the greatest Christmas gift that we give someone. So let’s get praying and see God’s intervention in people’s lives and in our nation. Read the full story here in this blog.
These recent tragedies may in fact draw us more to the message of Christmas. God sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to show us the Father and the way to heaven. This is the Good News of Christmas which gives hope to a weary world.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17)
In the fullness of time, on that first Christmas 2000 years ago, Jesus came to earth as a human baby. Born into a poor family, He grew up and gave His sinless life as a perfect and sufficient sacrifice to pay for the sins of the whole world!
Since then anyone who believes in His finished work on the cross and receives Jesus into his or her life receives the free gift of eternal life. And so Jesus is the greatest Christmas gift of all! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
So in the face of evil and tragedy in the world, let us persist in our sharing the Christmas message. Let us encourage each other and keep praying for one another. This Christmas let us give our friends, loved ones, and the world the gift of a prayer!
In closing we thank God for your wonderful fellowship and partnership in 2014. It has been a challenging and yet exciting year.
We pray for you – that you and your loved ones will have a joyous and blessed Christmas!
With love as we celebrate the birth of Jesus,
David & Marilyn Rowsome and Warwick & Alison Marsh
PS: Thank you for all those who prayed for the Victorian elections and advocated for godly Government. Some have been asking for a report from the Canberra Declaration view (and so not read in secular media). You will find this below. There is good news despite the seeming losses against the values we seek to protect.
The Sophie Scholl Appeal ~ THANK YOU!
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Victorian Election Results Point to a Miracle by Warwick Marsh
God was at work “in the whirlwind and the storm” of the Victorian elections. Thanks to all those who prayed. Thanks to all those who advocated for righteousness and thanks to all those, from whichever party, who stood for election. We need people of faith to get involved in all political parties. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Many people of faith did something in the Victorian elections and God did something too.
More people in Victoria and around Australia were activated to pray for the Victorian election than any other Victorian state election past or present.
Christian people, Christian groups and the Church at large spoke in the majority of occasions with one voice. The message was loud and clear “Defend religious freedom.” From our experience and observation this was the strongest level of unity at a Victorian State election yet.
In the lead up to the election the three minor parties formed a Christian Values Coalition and affected the moral tone of the election for good. This unprecedented level of unity in turn had a positive effect on the attitude to preferencing by both the minor parties and the major parties. There was also a notable difference in the reporting of the Christian parties, who were given greater respect by anti-christian media than otherwise would have been the case.
The Liberal National Coalition lost government but they had not made a strong stand for life. They were a great disappointment to the many Christian values-based voters. This no doubt contributed to their demise. The good news according to political sources is Matthew Guy, the new leader of the Liberal party in Victoria, is more strongly committed to life and family than Mr Napthine who whilst having a confession of faith was weak when it came to moral issues.
Four conservatively inclined Independents will “most likely” work together to form an informal family friendly voting bloc and hold the balance of power. This voting bloc, with the help of the Liberal National Coalition, could effectively block any anti-family legislation presented by the Labor Greens and Sex party voting alliance. The story in The Age which said, minor parties have major power told the story well.
Obviously these are early days and there are a lot of variables. But all things being considered, the results give us hope in the midst of the antipathy of the largely anti-christian governing Victorian Labor party.
The results, as articulated above, point to a miracle. Only time will tell. The way forward for us, as people of faith in the battle for Life, Marriage, Family and Religious Freedom, is again indicated in the words of Edmund Burke, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”