Your Christmas will be different this year, though we don’t know quite how yet. But you can still celebrate with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world despite the distance, and however the pandemic shapes your Christmas. Discover the possibilities with Finding Family, a new suite of Christmas resources that will help you and your church connect with your persecuted family in Bangladesh, Colombia and Iraq.
You can connect with the persecuted church using Finding Family Advent and Christmas resources
As you enter lockdown, you will doubtless have lots of questions about Christmas. Can your church hold carol services? Possibly, although you probably won’t be able to sing or chat with your neighbours or sit next to them, and the church might need to turn people away if the event is too popular – how terrible!
Can you have the family round for Christmas lunch? Hopefully, but it’s hard to know for certain, and it’s quite possible that you won’t be able to see everybody you’d usually see.
Maybe you’re facing this crisis with typical British humour. To mark what promises to be an unusual festive season, you can now buy Santa figurines with red face masks or and tree decorations featuring elves, loo roll and hand sanitiser.
It’s great to keep your spirits up, and no doubt these decorations will look great in your home. But why not also use this unusual Christmas to connect with your worldwide Christian family, for whom celebrating Christmas is never simple. To help you do that, Open Doors has created a range of resources that will help you connect with your persecuted church family, despite the distance, even if you’re on your own, and however the pandemic shapes our Christmas.
Finding Family is a new suite of Christmas resources from Open Doors, all of which can be used when meeting online. As no one knows exactly what Christmas will look like this year, there’s a little bit of something for everyone and for every context in which you may find yourself celebrating.
The name ‘Finding Family’ is inspired by the persecuted church. You see, for persecuted Christians around the world, ‘family’ isn’t just a nice metaphor. It’s a living reality. They need a new family. They need people like us to care for them, support them, pray for them and celebrate with them. We hope this year’s resources will encourage you to do just that.
Finding Family is a new suite of Christmas resources, perfect for online meetings
The core of Finding Family is a Christmas service sheet with Christmas Bible readings and prayers, reflections on the Christmas story and lyrics to some of the best loved carols. It’s a complete church service outline in its own right, as well as an excellent aid to personal reflection.
In the service sheet, you can read the story of 10-year-old Bijli and her family (whose names we’ve had to change, for security reasons). They were invited to join a Christmas celebration last year, arranged by Open Doors partners. It was a chance for them to celebrate Jesus’s birth with many other believers.
It was a fabulously joyful event, but it’s risky to attend. Bijli’s family are ostracised in their Muslim-majority village because of their faith and their absence was likely to attract attention. So, is it worth the risk to go? Badol, Bijli’s father, thinks so. “They (the villagers) will ask many questions,” he says, “I will give them our answer, that we are followers of Jesus Christ, and we went to celebrate the birthday of Jesus.”
Such a courageous message is suitable for small groups too. We’ve put together a special guide to use in this setting, featuring activities, questions for reflection and prayer points. The guide can be used by groups that meet online and a set of PowerPoint slides are also available to help you pray for persecuted Christians.
Younger members of the congregation are catered for too. For youth groups, we have an interactive session to use online. It features stories of young people from Colombia and Bangladesh and includes games, videos, Bible discussion and prayer ideas. Children can have a go at making a Christmas wreath, star-spotting and cooking a crazy Christmas meal, whilst learning more about their persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries.
Daniela is one of the children featured in the Finding Family Advent Adventure. Daniela’s father was a pastor in a church in Colombia who stood up against drug gangs. He was shot and killed whilst watching the news in his living room. Understandably, his death has had a devastating impact on his family.
"We are followers of Jesus Christ, and we went to celebrate the birthday of Jesus" Badol, Bijli's dad
Like Bijli’s family, Daniela’s was invited to join in celebrations with other Christians, this time at the Open Doors Children’s Centre in Colombia. The family spent four weeks there receiving love and care and being helped to talk about what happened. “I learned that, although there are difficult times in life, there are also times when Jesus helps us to overcome through people and prayer,” says Daniela.
Through Christ, we are part of an enormous family of believers across the world. This Christmas, we can stand alongside Christians like Daniela – and know that millions of believers are praying for each other, both praying for the persecuted church and for Christians in the UK in lockdown and other restrictions. Will you join us this festive season, however strange and unusual it may be, in celebrating the birth of Jesus? After all, at Christmas we all need to find our family.
In a year like no other, we ask, God, that You will help us and our persecuted sisters and brothers to connect with family both near and far. Please be with us all this Christmas, wherever we are, and minister to our hearts to help us overcome the challenges we face.
Access the full range of Finding Family resources by clicking on the link below. The suite includes a Christmas service sheet, small group guide, Advent Adventure for Children and Families, a youth session, and downloadable videos.
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