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At the heart of the Christmas story, there is a family. There is a pregnant woman, a first time father, a long journey, a birth in a strange house, with no private room, and then another long journey with a small child, and a stay in a foreign land, waiting for a time when it’s safe to return home. Many have observed before how common this story is. Many have observed before how common this story is. How much like the everyday suffering of families everywhere in the world today, of refugees and migrants, like the families we serve. Families separated and displaced, often shuffled around by governments and powers beyond their control.

It seems to me that this is the point. That a story of hope is most needed in a place that feels the most hopeless. Just as a small candle shines brightest when it’s lit in the midst of darkness.

Here is where hope is most precious, most needed.

It’s hope that you give when we meet a mother who can’t see how she will be able to care for her child, and plans to give her baby away, and we tell her we will support her, and the baby, with food and visits, education, strategies for the future.

It’s hope that you give when a father becomes too ill to care for his family, and we can bring him medical attention and emergency resources so they are provided for.

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It’s hope that you give when parents of a child born with a disability begin to see that their child’s future does not have to be as bleak as they first thought it was, and that they don’t have to take this journey alone.

It’s hope that you give when a neglected senior looks forward to her weekly visit from our team, for help taking her shower, for someone who listens to her stories, cleans her, and clothes her again, with gentleness and respect.

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You, my friends, do this for the foreigner and widow in this far off land. You are instruments of redemption and hope.

May you be close with the ones you love this Christmas season. May you have joy in the normal ordinary moments of your days together. May you have hope in the difficult moments, that the future can be better. May you find meaning in your moments of suffering. And may you have, present in your mind, the knowledge that here in Mae Sot families have hope and are together, because of you.

Thank you, friends, for the gift of hope.

Carrien, (Co-founder of The Charis Project)

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