Every year, we invite you to be hope for families living in poverty in the lead-up to Christmas, by giving to the Be Hope Christmas Appeal.

Each one of us can participate in bringing hope to vulnerable people around the world. By showing love through the support of projects and advocacy, you too can empower families and communities to lift themselves from poverty.

But why be hope in the first place?

Put simply, hope is very powerful.

Here in Australia, we all have our challenges. However, when I think about my hopes, I am also reminded that I am fortunate to live a relatively comfortable life. If you’re like me, you hope your children will grow up healthy and to have good careers… or maybe that your footy team will win on the weekend!

But for a mum or dad who struggles to know where they will find food to feed themselves and their families, who must live with watching their youngsters suffer from preventable illnesses that we hardly think twice about… hope is something entirely different.

For families living in poverty, hope isn’t just a nice feeling… it is life-transforming!

Hope lifts people out of sustained stress, it puts an end to shame, and it comforts people in their grief. Hope is more powerful that hunger or vulnerability. And it is greater than the marginalisation imposed by others.

So, when we tell you stories of transformation out of poverty, remember that the people in them do not need your pity. They do not need your pity because they have hope. And I’ve come face-to-face with that hope in many places this year.

I have travelled to Cambodia where I met with former Khmer Rouge families in the north of the country. Previously ostracised and broken, these precious families have now transformed into respected community leaders, teachers, successful farmers, and educated children with dreams. They have real hope!

I also visited Lebanon where I met Syrian refugees who have lost everything, including loved ones. Amidst this darkness, I witnessed great hope. I met Lebanese people who, through their involvement with the local church, are leading a process of love and support for Syrian refugee families – even after years of Syria’s brutal occupation of their own nation. Thanks to this amazing demonstration of love, churches throughout the country are providing informal education programs for children, livelihood training for mums (and sometimes dads), and community structures that help the families build relationships of mutual support. This surely is the embodiment of hope – the Gospel being applied as Jesus taught us – loving your enemies and finding pathways to peace!

More recently, I was in Taipei at the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation Executive Meeting. Here we outlined a vision of how to equip the most vulnerable churches and communities across our region. And in this meeting, I again saw hope. I saw hope as these leaders began to catch the vision of what it would mean to see God’s kingdom come to the most remote and marginalised communities, across the largest region on earth. I saw hope as we envisioned what love could achieve in helping families living in poverty.

I have been many other places with Baptist World Aid this year and, in every place, I witnessed this amazing outpouring of God’s love translating into hope for so many… thanks to your faithful support.

To see hope in our project communities, in turn, gives me great hope, because I know what it makes possible. The momentum of hope is radically changing the lives of families overseas – and you can be part of this process by lending your encouragement and support.

Thank you for participating with us in this wonderful life-affirming change. I pray that this encourages you.

Be hope this Christmas: baptistworldaid.org.au/be-hope