CHOOSING LOVE OVER HATE
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 in both his classes and sports. He was everybody’s favorite; 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; these things 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 friends. 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 slurs 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 your 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 a young man, continues to endure 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 (Muslim Background Believer) 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.”
Jesus wants me to not repay evil with evil, but rather to love, bless and pray for those who are my enemies.
Help me, Lord, to live among those who oppose me with the character of Jesus and respond to them with love and not hate.