Open Doors: Standing Through the Storm: Choosing Love over Hate

SSTS_Devotional_header

CHOOSING LOVE OVER HATE

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.Romans 12:14

At the early age of eleven, Sam was living a pious Muslim life in the southern Philippines. He prayed at mosques on Fridays and fasted during Ramadan. Sam was the only one of his siblings sent to school where he excelled both in classroom and sports. He was everybody’s favourite, popular and well-loved.

But everything changed one afternoon. After school, Sam passed by his grandfather’s house who happened to be a Christian. He saw a maroon book with ‘Kitab Injil’ (The Gospel) written on the cover. He opened it and started reading. “I was drawn to Jesus because his teachings were so different…Help the needy, obey and respect parents, do not be a false witness…they were not taught in Islam. Before that, I only knew to repay evil with evil.”

So Sam committed his life to following Jesus and His teachings in the Bible. He was just a fifth grader then. Although he was the only Christian in his family, Sam’s parents and siblings respected his new faith. But outside his home, among his friends, it was a different story. “You’re a kafir (infidel)! You are not my friend anymore.”

It was very painful for Sam to be deserted by his friend. His classmates at grade school kept a good distance from him. Some mocked him, calling him kafir. There were times during classes when kids would throw their shoes at him. They bullied him by writing stuffs on his uniform, filling his bag with sand, and even punching him.

One day, a friend-turned-enemy yelled at him. “You Christians are filthy! Christians are garbage!” Sam cried and ran home. There were times when he was tempted to fight back, but he remembered the words of Jesus to love the enemies, to bless and not curse. In his heart, he prayed for those who bullied him and repaid them with a kind smile instead.

Sam, now seventeen, has endured physical harassment, insults, and discrimination from friends and school mates for boldly telling them that he is a Christian.

After Sam joined the Open Doors’ discipleship program for MBB youths, he has become even bolder in seizing every opportunity to share his faith in Jesus. Sam knows that doing so might cost him his life someday.

“When I think of my friends, my heart breaks. I lost them, and though they turned out to be my enemies, I don’t hate them. Instead, I pray for them that one day they will meet my Lord Jesus and be changed.”

RESPONSE: Jesus wants me to not repay evil with evil but rather love, bless and pray for those who are my enemies.

PRAYER: Help me Lord to live among those who oppose me with the character of Jesus and respond to them with love and not hate.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permissionImage

Standing Through the Storm: No Turning Back

SSTS_Devotional_header
Image

NO TURNING BACK

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38

In northern Nigeria, confessing Christ by word of mouth is not the only test of a believer’s sincere submission to the authority of Christ—particularly one coming to Christ from Islam. A true follower of Jesus must be prepared to carry the cross, or else he falls away.

For 25-year-old Akin, his cross came quickly. His father and uncle took him from the home of one Islamic scholar to another, trying to convince him to compromise his faith in Christ. But all their efforts proved fruitless. Finally, as a last resort, Akin’s family took him to an Islamic reformatory where he must either accept Islam, or die.

“There, I lived with thieves, murderers, alcoholics and drug addicts whose parents or relatives had brought them there to be rehabilitated. I did not belong there…Immediately, they had my hands and feet chained. The chains fastened on my legs were worse, as they joined the metals directly on my legs. They also beat me consistently. The experience was agonizing, but I had to endure, because I had seen the light in Christ and accepted it,” said Akin.

“They maltreated us, but mine was more severe because the Islamic teacher told them I had blasphemed against the prophet of Islam,” said Akin. “I wore the same shirt and trousers for nine months. I could not even wash them since I was chained, hands and feet.”

After nine months in chains and under the cruel treatment of outcasts and the Islamic teacher, the Islamic teacher took Akin back to his father’s house in the village. “My father was very upset and asked the Islamic teacher to take me back, since I had not recanted my faith in Christ,” Akin said. But the teacher refused. “He handed me over to my father and left.”

Because staying with his parents would mean his death, he immediately fled to a pastor’s house for refuge. Akin stayed indoors for two weeks until the church relocated him to a more secure environment. Akin was discipled over the next two years, and then called into ministry.

Now in a Bible school, Akin still cannot go back home. The church in his village is small, with almost no means to support him. His Christian mentor is the only source of help for his school fees, books and provision of food.

“For me the battle continues, although I know it is Christ who rescued me,” says Akin. “This is a constant reminder that Christ actually gave up his life for me…So my experience in that [Islamic reformatory] was just a part of the road that leads to eternity with Christ. He has told us the journey will not be easy, but we must press on, no turning back.”

RESPONSE: Today I will persevere in following Jesus no matter what obstacles I face. I will not turn back!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the example of believers like Akin whose example imitates Yours in teaching me to follow after You, no matter the cost.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission