Glory to God and Peace on Earth
December 1, 2003
by Franklin Graham
The First World War was once known as "The War to End All Wars." The history of the 20th century shows us that name was little more than wishful thinking. In fact, many people argue that World War I actually triggered more conflicts than it resolved.
But that war also left us with one triumphant example of peace. In 1914, the night before the first Christmas of the war, as German and British troops dug into cold and muddy trenches across France and Belgium, soldiers quieted the battlefield by singing the carol "Silent Night."
Two languages joined in one harmonious tune. At the risk of ambush, soldiers and officers from both sides spontaneously laid down their weapons, climbed out of their trenches and met in the killing zone between the battle lines. They exchanged small gifts and warm greetings. There are even accounts of friendly soccer matches between the enemies.
The day after Christmas, the fighting resumed, and it continued for almost four more years. But the 1914 Christmas truce showed the surpassing power of God's love in man's conflicts. The angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem said that Jesus' birth glorified God and heralded peace. "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!" (Luke 2:14, NKJV).
It's not too much to hope that this Christmas will bring peace on another entrenched battlefield—this time in the African country of Sudan. Two months ago, I asked you to join me in praying for peace in Sudan, which has suffered from 20 years of civil war. We could be witnessing God's answer to those prayers, as the government of Sudan and opposition leaders have agreed on terms of a truce.
Now you may pray with us for an unprecedented outreach to children and families in Sudan through Operation Christmas Child. This year we would like to send tens of thousands of shoe-box gifts on one of the world's largest jets to Sudan. We have sent a team to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to work out the details.
I believe this is an extraordinary opportunity for us to introduce the Gospel to thousands of children and families who don't know about Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. It's a chance for Christians to show love and dispel prejudice in a land that has been hostile to us. We want to prepare the way, like John the Baptist, "to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79, NKJV). That's far more than a political truce or a military cease-fire. It's peace in our hearts—"heavenly peace."
As you sing "Silent Night" in the days ahead, be reminded to pray for our evangelistic outreaches to those near and far who don't have Christ's peace in their hearts. May this Christmas truly be for them "the dawn of redeeming grace."