The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. – John 1:5

Jesus was born into a world of darkness, overshadowed by Roman oppression and the tyrannical leader, Herod. As a small boy, his family was forced to flee to Egypt as Herod attempted to murder all children under the age of two. This shocking violence failed in its goal of eliminating Jesus.

It is often said that it is darkest just before the dawn. Times have been dark for the whole world over the past two years. COVID-19 is no respecter of persons, borders or status, and it has upended the lives of millions of people.

During these difficult days, we can easily feel overwhelmed by life. We can feel anxious, unsure and insecure. These are all normal feelings. In the midst of this, light brings hope. Light is a sign pointing to something better and beyond. The great Christian hope is that God-in-Christ has come into the world, beginning a process of making all things new. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it.

The people of Gaza have also been experiencing darkness in the same part of the world that Jesus was born all those years ago. Living in the third most densely populated region in the world, with electricity on for only 6-8 hours per day, and 95 percent of the water undrinkable, makes for an extraordinarily difficult existence for them. Like in the times of Jesus, the people of Gaza experience the heavy yoke of living under a dominant force, and this year again experienced devastation and loss of life when fighting once more broke out in the region.

Our partner in Gaza, the Anglican-owned Ahli Arab Hospital, faced significant challenges this year as they worked to treat the many casualties of the escalating violence and rocket attacks. Even with these often overwhelming obstacles, the Ahli Arab Hospital team display amazing resilience. They provide light in the darkness; they genuinely believe their troubles will one day come to an end and peace will reign.

Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City. Credit: Ahli Arab Hospital.

Lighting the lives of women in Gaza

Despite the challenges, the team continue to support women who have breast cancer. For women facing the possibility of a cancer prognosis, the Ahli Arab team are a beacon of light, helping them access early screening and supporting them to cope with the psychological distress if they have the disease.

Inspired by Jesus, Anglican Overseas Aid exists to shine a light in the darkness of poverty and injustice. We want people to live lives that are full and flourishing.

Please remember the people of Gaza this Christmas, those who persevere despite often feeling like they are in darkness. Help us to shine a light together so that darkness is overcome.

Lighting the lives of vulnerable children in East Jerusalem

Located just nine kilometres from Bethlehem, the Spafford Children’s Center shines a light into the lives of vulnerable children who have been impacted by the political violence in East Jerusalem. At a time when we
celebrate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, children living nearby continue to face poverty and trauma.

The Spafford Center supports children with speech impediments, learning delays, psychological challenges and emotional problems – often resulting from the trauma they have experienced – to learn and succeed.

The children are provided with remedial education, speech therapy, play therapy, and other psychosocial empowerment activities that enhance the children’s wellbeing and development in a structured and protective framework.

This Christmas, as we celebrate the Light coming into the world, we invite you to light up the world of these children by supporting our Christmas Appeal.

The Spafford Children’s Center works with traumatised children. A young girl participates in a lantern making class. The lanterns symbolise hope. Credit: The Spafford Childrens Center.

To donate to our 2021 Christmas Appeal, click on the ‘Please Donate’ button below (choose ’01. 2021 Christmas Appeal’ from the ‘Donation’ drop-down menu) or call us on 1800 249 880.

Alternatively, you can send a cheque/money order made payable to Anglican Overseas Aid to:

Anglican Overseas Aid
PO Box 389
Abbotsford, VIC 3067