Divine Appointments: Where is the Cross?
We noticed that a Christian cross had been torn from the pastor’s gate and we asked what happened.
I learned about this story that I am about to share during a recent trip to Northwest Africa in an area of the Sahara Desert where persecution of Christians is widespread. This is a powerful story about loving your neighbor, but not what we expected. This story was so humbling it brought tears to our eyes and made us think about:
Are you the one to boldly defend those with no voice?
Are you the one to show compassion when it is not convenient?
Are you the one who refuses to deny Christ, even if it means persecution?
We visited a Muslim neighborhood where a Christian pastor lived next door to a Muslim man and his family. Over nearly ten years they became good friends. In fact, the Christian pastor would share the word of God and invite him to gatherings at his home and his church. The pastor would occasionally stop by his home and ask if he had any prayer requests.
There was even a time when his Muslim friend had problems with his marriage. Once his wife left him, but the pastor was the one who pursued her and convinced her to come home to reconcile their difficulties. This was obviously very unusual in this culture for a Christian man to get involved in this situation.
We noticed the pastor’s gate where a cross had been removed and asked the question, “What happened to the cross?”
One of the young members of his church told us the story of the missing cross. There was an uprising in the community and a group of angry militants came to burn down the pastor’s home. They tore the cross from his gate. The pastor pleaded with the angry crowd to allow his family to leave the house before they set his house on fire.
The story then took a twist that we were not expecting!
Suddenly, his Muslim neighbor came out of his home and addressed the crowd yelling,
“If you must burn down his house, burn mine first.”
He continued to defend his neighbor by telling them that the pastor had always shown compassion and love to his family:
He fed us when we were hungry and thirsty,
He cared for us when we were sick,
When I was broken and hurting, he comforted me,
So, if you must burn his house, burn my house first.
After hearing this, the crowd slowly grew quiet and eventually dispersed and did not burn down the pastor’s home.
We reflected on our Christian witness of loving our neighbor. It was the pastor’s years of sharing the word of Christ and his actions of compassion and love which led his Muslim friend to defend him.
Are you Loving your Neighbor?
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Our love and compassion may be the only glimpse of Christ that our spouse, family, friends or coworkers will ever see.
Are you the one to courageously be that divine appointment?
In our travels around the world we have met many loving Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim people like this Muslim neighbor who are suffering in war torn countries without hope. They are not the enemy. Christ died on the cross for everyone and they inspire us to go to share the love of Christ, with the message of hope through Christ.
Christ is the author of our life story and it defines us as a Christians. We must be a bridge to the hope of the gospel…
There is no worse death than the death of hope.
Jesus Christ is the way and the truth and the life.
Come join us with Teach To Transform and humbly share the love and truth of Christ.
For His Glory,
Dr. Tom is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician in the USA with over 25 years of experience and an ordained minister by Southeast Christian Church in Louisville Kentucky. His true passion is world missions and he and his wife Karen are the founders of Teach To Transform, an organization that exists to equip partners around the world with medical and vocational skills they can use to share the gospel of Christ. You can subscribe to Dr. Tom’s weekly blog, Divine Appointments, to read more stories and learn more about the mission of Teach To Transform.