Day 13: Forbearance
Indonesia – An Open Doors colleague spoke at a Standing Strong Through the Storm seminar. Most of the 800 pastors attending were victims of attacks by Muslims on the island of Ambon and had lost homes, churches and even family members.They were hurt, devastated, and needed answers to the challenges they faced.
As soon as the speaker began preaching, one pastor stood up and interrupted, “Must we accept persecution from Muslims or must we retaliate? We are tired of forgiving just to be attacked again. We believe it is time to defend the honor of God and retaliate. What must we do?”
Then another pastor interrupted, “No, pastor, tell this brother he is wrong. The Bible tells us to accept our suffering. We will dishonor God if we retaliate. Seventy times seven we need to forgive. Isn’t this true?”
“The Bible is clear,” said the speaker. “You MUST retaliate!” The group was stunned into silence; division filled the room.
“Wait, brothers!” the speaker continued. “Let me finish my sentence. Luke 6 teaches us clearly to retaliate, but in doing so, we need to choose our weapons. When someone curses you, you don’t just accept it. You retaliate by blessing him. When someone mistreats you and persecutes you, you don’t just accept it. You retaliate by praying for him. When someone slaps you in the face, don’t stand for it. Retaliate! Turn your other cheek.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, – Galatians 5:22
Over the month of August, Open Doors ministry has a special mission they are encouraging all to partake in. “During the month of Ramadan, from August 1-30, 2011, Open Doors is calling on Christians in the West to pray for Christians living in Islamic dominated countries… praying specifically for God to fill and strengthen them with the ‘Fruit of the Spirit.’ This ‘fruit’ embodied in each believer; molds, shapes and transforms us – expressing the image of His Son. And through this image, shining through a believer, God draws people to salvation.”
I signed up for their daily prayer emails for this mission. Each day, they send an account of a Christian who is living in Islamic-dominated countries. I pray this will help us to remember to pray for those who are ministering to hearts in foreign countries with the gospel.
“Open Doors works in the world’s most oppressive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ’s light in these dark places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles, training Christian leaders, developing Christian communities and ensuring prayer, presence and advocacy for these suffering believers.” (www.OpenDoorsUSA.org)