Why Christmas For Me Is Not ĎSilent Night, Holy Nightí . . . . Look At The State Of Our World Today
Thomas Michael Hieber is a German who has a¬†passionate Father's heart¬†for the South Asian people.¬†After completing secondary education in Germany he got a degree in Business and¬†worked for about 12 years in business and sales promotion at his uncle's company in Germany. During that time, he was involved in missions in our church, youth ministry and served as an elder in the same church. During a mission‚Äôs conference in Germany on the unreached peoples groups in the world, Thomas sensed God‚Äôs calling for fulltime ministry amongst the unreached.¬†At the age of 31, Thomas¬†and his family¬†left Germany for further studies in the UK. A 5-month language course in English, followed by a 3-month short-term ministry trip to Zambia prepared him for his college entry. From 1993 -1995 he did a 2 year course at the All Nations Christian College (ANCC) in Heartfordshire UK, from where he graduated with a Diploma in Biblical and Cross Cultural Studies.¬†A further Internship with a multi-cultural church in London as well as several courses with South Asian Concern (SAC) prepared him¬†for his ministry in Kenya amongst the South Asia community.¬†After joining Africa Inland Mission International (AIM) in 1996, Thomas and his¬†family¬†came to Nairobi in 1997 where he started a ministry together with another couple from AIM called ' South Asian Outreach'.¬†His involvement in this ministry was mainly developing training material, prayer guides, research, as well as training of lay people, theological students and churches for Asians ministry. He¬†was¬†also involved in friendship evangelism with out Indian friends. Over the last 3 years, he was able to visit several African countries and do a survey on the South Asian communities. The aim was to get reports of possible opportunities to organizations that are concerned about the South Asian Diaspora. With information people can pray and prepare to go to Africa. Out of this research and other publications, a booklet developed called ‚Äė 30 days of Prayer Focus on Asians in Africa‚Äô¬†Another vision is to help facilitating networks with other like minded organizations and partners that want to reach out to the South Asian community in the Diaspora or to unreached people groups. Thomas¬†would like to connect people and ministries together for the purpose of networking, sharing of ideas, resources as well as prayer. In 2006, Thomas and his¬†family moved back to Germany for various family reasons. Since November 2006, they¬†live in Berlin and work with INTERSERVE Europe. Like in Africa we want to research the German and European South Asian scene. It is Thomas Hieber's¬†hope and prayer that, as more information is made¬†available on the South Asian Diaspora on mainland Europe, people around the World will start praying and God will send workers to come to Europe to help. I also would like to give the churches in Germany a vision for their neighbors, who have come from many parts of the world including India. I want to be an advocate for the Unreached People Groups, especially from South Asia.View all articles by Thomas Hieber
“I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest: A couple ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells…’ Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment:’ Look Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy.” - by John Piper – Don’t Waste Your Life.
“Bom went to Berlin with a German man she met when she was working in a bar in Pattaya/Thailand.. They married and had a child. Bom believed her husband really loved her. Soon after though, he sold her for 200,000 DM (now 100.000 Euro). “He SOLD MY LIFE!” she says. For 15 years, Bom lived in a brothel to pay back the ‘debt’. Eventually, she met someone else who helped her out of the brothel. They soon split up and she moved into an apartment next door to a German pastor. He and his wife helped her in many ways and shared the Gospel with her. She accepted Christ and today Bom is a radiant Christian actively sharing her faith and reaching out to help other Thai women in Germany.”
• Illegal trade in human beings is one of today’s fastest growing and lucrative businesses and the top human right’ s issue of the twenty-first century. Victims number from 700 000 to 4 million annually. Police statistics indicate that less than 0,5per cent of these are male. Most females are imported and exported for forced labor or sexual exploitations; many are sold by destitute parents. Others are lured to another country by false promises of legitimate work. Their passports are then confiscated and they become virtual slaves. Every nation in the world is involved.
A ‘Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’-often described as an international bill of rights for women- was adopted in 1979 by the UN’s General Assembly. The agreement was signed by 174 countries (90 per cent of the UN members) and the countries should ‘take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
• Approximately 500 000 women are annually trafficked into Western Europe. Germany is a major destination and transit country for trafficked women, with estimated numbers ranging all the way up to 20 000 per year. These are expected to include around 15 000 Russian and Eastern European women, who are put to work as prostitutes. Homeless children in Romania have increasingly been trafficked under false pretense and forced into prostitution in Berlin, Hamburg, Germany and Amsterdam.
• An estimated 50 000 women and children are annually trafficked to the United States. They are primarily used for the sex industry, though they also provide maid services at hotels, peddle trinkets on subways and buses, work in sweatshops an beg. The average age is twenty years old.
‘But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder with no-one to rescue them’ Is. 42:22
• Tens of thousand of girls are among the 300 000 children fighting in today’s armed conflicts at any one time. Some of them carry fully-automatic assault weapon by the age of seven or eight. Children are sometimes called the ‘invisible soldiers’ because governments deny they exist, they are kept out of media attention and often end up vanishing-either killed, maimed or abandoned.
One fourteen-year old girl abducted to serve a rebel group in Sierra Leone said, ’I’ve seen people get their hands cut off, a ten-year-old girl raped and then die, and so many men and women burned alive…So many times I just cried inside my heart because I didn’t cry out loud’
‘He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.’ Proverbs 14:31
‘Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Ps. 82:4
From Deborah Meroff’s Book – True Grit- Women taking on the World, for God’s Sake.
These are just a few facts about our world today. There are twenty-seven million slaves on our planet today. Girls and boys, women and men of all ages are forced to toil in the sheds of Nepal, sell their bodies in the streets of Mumbai, break rocks in the quarries of Pakistan and fight in wars in Africa and Sri Lanka. Go in certain areas of any major town or city in the world today and you will find human beings exploited and enslaved in the name of pleasure, money and greed. Every day 30 000 children die of hunger and poverty, 9000 of AIDS, many thousand women during child labor because of poor conditions and countless on Malaria and TB. 850 million are seriously under malnourished, 1.4 billion do not have access to clean drinking water, and 860 million cannot read and write.
It wasn’t a ‘silent and holy night’ 2000 years ago and when people, oppressed by the Romans, longing to be free again, travelled to places dictated by the Roman government.
The place was crammed and dirty, smelly and noisy. It was not a comfortable place to be and give birth to a first born. But the young couple was happy and joyful- at last. 9 month of waiting was over, the talking of their neighbors about that ‘illegitimate’ child that the young girl was carrying inside her, was now over.
Over was also the time when it seemed, for many people in Israel, that God had forgotten them. 400 years of silence had passed in Israel, now finally the Savior was born!
But why was the ‘peace on earth’ shattered so quickly? The young couple and their child became refugees in a strange land just like today’s 14 million refugees and asylum seekers and as if this was not enough heartache and trouble, the couple heard that because of their child, probably hundreds of children were killed by a merciless, furious king. ‘Rachel’s weeping’ echoed in their ears as they plotted along the refugee highway down to Egypt…
No it wasn’t silent and holy and neither is it today. We still celebrate the birth our Jesus but little has changed in the last 2000 years and I sometimes wonder who long it will take, till peace on earth will finally come.
Over the last weeks and months God has been bringing these issues into my life as I minister in Berlin/Germany. I hear of disturbing facts right in my own city and country and I read of more disturbing facts around the world and I wonder: ‘How long are you Lord delaying your coming?’ Is there still not enough crying and weeping, not enough human tragedy, not enough blood shed, not enough exploitation in this world? Lord why are you silent and don’t make an end with all this inhuman behavior of us? And heaven seems to be silent just as it was before the first Christmas.
Then I remember the call God has put on my life: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.’(John15:16)
God has given me a mission to work for his Glory amongst the Unreached Peoples of this world. As he is bringing disturbing facts to my attention, it forces me to pause and pray about these things. God is much more concerned about these people, whom he created in His image, than I ever can – yet He calls me and you to be a salt and a light in this world. He too calls us to work with all the gifts and talents that he has given us till He will come back.
I believer firmly in my heart, as we Christians become more and more aware about these facts, God wants to bring us on our knees to cry out for mercy and also for more laborers. The world as it is today disturbs me! But I believe in a God who knows what he is doing.
In the meantime apart from praying I want to share God’s heart –‘ For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity’ (Isaiah 61.8) ( and my heart) for the unreached, lost and marginalized people around me. I want to challenge people to stand up and DO something about injustice and evil, which is done today by our fellow human beings.
• Go to the web such as http://www.micahchallenge.org/ or others,
• Buy the book ‘True Grit- Women taking on the World, for God’s Sake’ (order from http://www.authenticmedia.co.uk/AuthenticSite/product/9781850785750.htm.)
• Pray about what you, your group or your church can do to become more relevant in this world.
Today's Christians need to make an impact in today’s world with today's problems. As we spread the word and start praying for these issues I believe God will change us and through us the world around us.
“Slaves, child soldiers, prostitutes- and we look to the side, it disturbs our peace, our lives. We do not want to look in those eyes. Somebody- somebody must Do something! Is there nobody who does anything, nobody who cares? Our mission is to preach the gospel. Yes we preach about the love of God - but somebody else must help. Our task is to preach….” D.Eigenbrodt
..“The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matth.25:40-46
Christmas disturbs me this year! I cannot sing ‘Silent Night – Holy Night’ when the pain and suffering in the world is all around me and is out of control in so many other places around the globe. But I have hope! Hope that we Christians can bring light into these dark places because Jesus came into the dark places of our lives and lived among people with a dark past.
So don’t waste your life! Make a difference in the world- in the places were it counts and amongst people that are otherwise lost and without hope.