Emmanuel, God with us

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O Come, O Come Emanuel.” This haunting melody draws me into a dark side of Christmas and reminds me of the verse of prophecy in Isaiah 9:2 that those who have “walking in darkness have seen a great light.”

I have seen this year in the Middle East people who have lived in great despair and hopelessness come to a recognition that the unthinkable was about to take place for them; hope and joy would enter their hearts.

In one of these scenarios, I saw a young mother of two children in Egypt, whose husband was a pastor had died eight months before. The concern of several of our pastors had moved us to this meeting. When she found out that we were putting her children in the program, emotions of despair and the dawning of hope interwove together as, through her tears, she expressed gratefulness that someone cared enough for her and her two children in the circumstances forced upon her to enter in and help.

In another situation, I was privileged to sit with a young man who, with his family are recent refugees fleeing persecution in Syria, shared with me his desperate quest for hope and purpose. When we led him to Jesus Christ, he was ready to profess faith and to ask for forgiveness for his sins. He knew he was a Child of God! His response? He immediately bought a cake and invited us and others to celebrate his new hope and peace!

For unto us a child is born, unto as a son is given…Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel…When the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His son….

Oh how we need to hear that we are not alone! The whisper of hope, the quiet spoken Word that God entered into our existence, and declared his Name: Emanuel, The Anointed One who the Law and the prophets looked to for fulfilling the promise that God declared and affirmed would come. God With Us.

In Arabic Emmanuel is, Allah maana. The beginning of God’s mightiest deeds, the redemption of the human soul, the justification by faith, the transformation of a sinner, and welcome of the once-banished, now redeemed, is because of the truth of Emmanuel, or God with us. Christmas truly means The Lord has come!

John Cook, CEO