The boy put his hand up. “Why are Christians being killed in Iraq?” he asked.
I looked at this brown-eyed 6-year-old boy in my Sunday School class and wondered how in the world I could begin to explain it to him. How could I explain that most Muslims are not murderers?
How could I explain that all of us are sinners and in desperate need of God’s forgiveness?
Many years ago I was wrestling with questions just like the boy’s. I had been leading prayer groups for the persecuted church when, one day, God cornered me and said, “You’re angry.” He was right. I was angry at Muslim extremists for killing Christians.
The Lord pointed me to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:43:
You have heard people say, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.’ But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven.
Love my enemies? People who have hurt my brothers and sisters around the world?
I was cut to the core.
Yes, we are to love them. Pray for them. Forgive them. Overcome evil with good.
That verse turned my hatred and anger against persecutors into love. After all, the Jesus way is the way of love, not of hate. It is the way of light, not of darkness. Even our enemies are made in God’s image, and He deeply longs to be reconciled with them. It is God’s desire for all Muslims to know Him.
With confidence, I told that Sunday school class, “People who don’t know Jesus Christ don’t know His love. Jesus was killed on the cross by people who hated him. But He still loved and forgave. The Christians in Iraq are also being killed. But, like Jesus Christ, they can also love and forgive. We can love and forgive.“
We spent the rest of our Sunday school class talking about God’s global love and His plan from the beginning of time that all nations would come and worship Him.
God’s plan for all time was to use the Church, His bride, to reach the lost. He could have used easier methods to get the message out. But instead, He commissioned the church to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He commissioned us to go into all the world.
Whether we go, send, or pray, each of us has a critical role in God’s plan.
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This account comes from a long-term field worker.