What are you watching and waiting for in your life – or perhaps the life of your church – at this time?
Waiting can be painful and frustrating, especially when we don’t know if the thing we are longing for will ever happen.
As we head towards Advent, how does the reminder of Christ’s coming at Christmas – and His promised return – help us as we watch and wait during life’s challenges and uncertainties?
For their Advent prayer guide, media ministry SAT-7 has invited Christians from across the Middle East and North Africa to share their reflections on watching and waiting in the face of many trials – conflict, injustice and restrictions on their religious freedom. (See below for details of how to order your free copy.)
Since the Algerian authorities closed several churches in October 2019, believers there have been longing to meet together again. In this reflection, Algerian SAT-7 producer Salah Kessai shares his challenge to the Church – and to us – to pray for change whilst actively working to bring God’s kingdom here and now:
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:25)
“In Algeria, Christians eagerly wait for Christmas to come. We wait for joyous worship services, time to gather with family and friends, presents to open, and the celebration of the hope we have in Christ.
But since our churches were closed by the authorities in 2019, we won’t be able to celebrate Christmas in church together for the third year running. The churches are doing their best to take care of their sheep in an impossible situation and are waiting for heavenly intervention. In the midst of these hardships, we continue to meet together on Zoom, and film and broadcast church services on SAT-7.
As we look at the injustices suffered by our Algerian brothers and sisters, we must ask ourselves – do we have the courage to hope? Do we have the stubborn willingness to keep showing up and watching, even in the midst of the darkness, for a new dawn? Do we have the paradoxical capacity to wait on God to shift the things beyond our control, whilst also working to bring change ourselves?
We believe in a mighty God – nothing is impossible to him. I join with many Algerian pastors in proclaiming that the best is yet to come. Today as a church, as a tiny minority in Algeria, we should be ready, waiting, watching for our Lord who promised to be with us.
Our prayer this Advent season is that we will live as if the One who shines a light into our despair is really on his way. And that until he comes, we wait and work with openness, courage and hope.”
SAT-7’s Watch and Wait Advent prayer guide features powerful and moving reflections like this from Middle East Christians as they draw strength from Christ’s coming at Christmas and look forward to His return.
You can pre-order a free Advent prayer guide to inspire your devotions in December, and/or a free Advent church pack with resources for your whole congregation. Find out more here.