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"They will live in safety and no one will make them afraid."    Ezekiel 34:28

As I take time for reflection in this Advent season, my thoughts often converge around safe church themes. In Safe Church ministry, we fight against the terrible darkness of abuse. The lights of Christmas remind me of the light of our Lord, and the power of light to overcome darkness.

Advent is a time to wait: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5). Often in Safe Church ministry, we are caught captive in a waiting mode, waiting to be heard, waiting for people to agree, waiting for actions to happen, waiting for justice. We sing, “Oh come, oh come Immanuel; and ransom captive Israel…”

Remembering Nelson Mandela also seems to fit with these Christmas reflections. We can see our Lord reflected in the way he lived. While people were calling for violent overthrow, Mandela spoke peace, forgiveness, truth, and reconciliation. Though despised by many in his life, and imprisoned for years, Mandela did not give up hope. In the end he came out on the right side of history. Today he is honored as the “Father of South Africa,” recipient of numerous worldwide awards. He followed the way of Jesus.

While people were expecting a conquering king, Jesus came as a poor baby and went on to die a criminal’s death on a cross. Yet now he is lifted up to the highest place, his name is above all names, and one day every knee will bow to him. Can you see the implications of this pattern?

Wherever we find ourselves right now, we must keep the long view in mind. Our strength lies in humility, trust, and patience through trials. The means are as important as the ends. The medium is also the message. That’s true for Safe Church work as well. So, don’t give up hope. Wait for the Lord – He’s coming!

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