In the build up to Christmas many of us will be busying ourselves with buying gifts and preparing for celebrations. Commercialism has become an everyday part of our celebration, and it often leads us to feeling pressured and overwhelmed prior to what is actually a reminder of welcoming the Prince of Peace into our lives.

While Christmas is of course a blessed time of year for us as Christians, this is not the case for all. It is unfathomable to think that there are still hundreds of millions across our world today who continue to suffer for the same faith that we so freely practise, and even sometimes take for granted, here in Britain.

On November 22, what has come to be known as Red Wednesday, public buildings, churches and places of worship were lit in red to signify the blood of the martyrs, and all those who continue to suffer religious persecution today.

Speeches were given and presentations made outside Westminster Cathedral in London to raise awareness of the estimated 200 million Christians worldwide who experience persecution because of their faith, and to shed light on the countless other minorities who likewise suffer for not “fitting the mould”.

The past few years have been eye-opening in terms of the sheer extent of suffering and injustice experienced by so many, and what is unfortunate is that there appears to be no end to it.

In light of the suffering we witness and read about, we must, as Christians, reflect upon what our role is in the midst of all of this. We are called in Scripture to look after our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, for “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5). What is more, we are called to advocate for humanity as a whole, following in the footsteps of our Lord, who gave us a clear example of advocacy in the Gospel of Luke (4:18): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

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