As I write this Christmas letter, sitting in a hotel in Hong Kong, it is hard not to be reminded how challenging, and at times bitter, our cries for justice around the world have become. Last night, the area of “Poly U”, which I last visited together with John Lennox a few years ago, was literally ablaze. The only thing that seems constant is the demand and hope for change. In the UK, it is not just personal resolutions that are being made as the festive season approaches (I really must start going to the gym…), but political ones as well. At times, it feels as if neither set of promises will hold.
More than ever, peace and goodwill are in short supply. Yet peace and goodwill are precisely what are needed right now. Christ’s promise of peace did not come accompanied with new political resolutions, promises to do better or try harder, or even a sustained media campaign. The birth in a stable could hardly have had more humble origins; yet that promise, contained within a wooden manger, and fulfilled on a wooden cross, offers the only chance of lasting peace we have.
Whether it is a question of finding peace within, peace with others, or peace with God, Christ’s life, death and resurrection tell us not only that our sins have been dealt with, that reconciliation with him is possible, and that death is not the end, but also that God cares for this world here and now and, in his love, has given us his only son.
The year has been a busy one for me, with meetings in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Australia. More importantly, it has been a year that has seen not only the scope of the work grow for our team – the number of meetings held has multiplied and our digital media reach has expanded exponentially – it has also been a year in which we have perhaps seen more people accept Christ than ever before. We delight to share this with you because we recognise that, in a very real sense, you go with us into these engagements.
If the global challenges have grown, the opportunities have grown with them. So the fact that our Middle Eastern team spent time in Australia, spoke to Arabic-speaking audiences in their native tongue, and saw hundreds of people respond; or members of the African team spoke at the Zacharias Institute in Atlanta and saw hundreds of leaders reduced to tears with their plea for us to stay true to our mission; or Ravi Zacharias took on various television interviews and saw viewing numbers counted in millions causesus to reflect with awe and gratitude for the invitations we were able to accept because you made it possible. We are so thankful to God for all that he has done, for the doors he has opened, and the hearts he has changed. And we are grateful that the Lord has laid on your heart the desire to support and pray for us as well.
Festival of Thought has continued to grow and expand under Andy Moore’s leadership with over 70 events in Singapore and over 45 events in Zurich in 2019. These festivals engage with key marketplace audiences at some of the most influential financial institutions, professional services firms, and other corporate establishments in globally significant business centres, aiming both to equip marketplace Christians to live out their faith in the public sphere and to proclaim the gospel’s good news of unconditional love in environments where profit is often the determiner of self-worth. With your help, we will be able to take advantage of continued opportunities for marketplace engagement in 2020 while building momentum for our largest Festival of Thought yet in Silicon Valley in 2021.
Additionally, REBOOT has experienced significant growth with 2019 seeing events run in London, Belfast, Toronto, Kampala, Las Vegas, Texas, Madrid, Santo Domingo, Abu Dhabi, and Cairo. This coming year, we have REBOOTs scheduled in Tampa Bay, Côte d’Ivoire, Southeast Asia, Seattle, Toronto, Calgary, and London, with provisional plans – resources allowing – for one in Nigeria and one in Cardiff. Our young people are facing issues that we never had to process at their age. Anne and I were really moved recently to receive a note from a Headteacher at a school I had spoken at that started with the words “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I pass that ‘thank you’ on to each of you – it is only through your generous support that we are able to continue to provide these spaces for our youth where “no question is off limits”.
You will have heard that Anne and I have been offered new roles in the organisation. Anne is heading up our global team care – ensuring we look after our team well – and I am now serving as President. It is a joy for both of us to be able to serve with such a dedicated and focused team, and an even greater joy to work even closer in supporting Ravi and Margie Zacharias. Ravi continues to spend more time preaching, teaching, and writing than any other member of RZIM. I am sure he would like me to thank you for your prayers, too.
One of the ways I hope to support Ravi in bearing the weight of his ministry load is by encouraging your support of the work that we do right here at home in the UK. The opportunities and invitations we are receiving to share the gospel and defend its credibility are truly humbling, but many of these invitations come from parties which – whether because of political sensitivities, or because they are in developing areas – are unable to fund the engagements. As we enter this season of giving, may I ask you to prayerfully consider making a year-end gift to enable the work we hope to do in the New Year? So much of the ministry we have been part of this past year has been possible only because of your sacrificial generosity. On behalf of the whole team, thank you for partnering with us in proclaiming the good news of Emmanuel, God with us.
As we enter this Christmas season together, our prayer is that you, too, may meet with Jesus in a fresh and new way. God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ, and the love he kindles in our hearts will not ultimately disappoint, even when circumstances in the short term seem to run against us. Even if the world is saying “no”, the promise of God in Christ is “Yes”.
May I wish you peace and blessings this Christmas time,
If you would like to make a year-end donation, please click here: