Friends, I’m really pleased to be able to share with you a story that one of our ministry friends sent to us on Monday. Philip is a Nigerian pastor and seminary professor whose region of the country has seen ongoing violence between Muslims and Christians, and Islamists advocating sharia law are in conflict with the state (you can find a number of articles, like this one in The Economist, for more information).
What I love about Philip’s story is that in the midst of a tremendous conflict swirling around him, Philip was called by God to show his reconciling love to one of his enemies in a very tangible way. The same love that God showed us when we were yet his enemies is what motivates Philip — and all of us — to love those who have offended or hurt us.
Can you comfortably sit in the same car with someone that you think is an enemy? Would it be God’s plan for you to sometimes sit together or help such a person in some way? Today, July 26, we woke up in Nigeria with the news of burning down of 3 churches and killing of over 100 people in Maiduguri. There is violence also in the states of Bauchi and Yobe all by Muslims. Bauchi is bordering our state so there is tension in the city of Jos. These Muslims came out in large numbers protesting against Western and what they call secular education in their sharia states. The implication of this is that only Islamic education should be taught in all their institutions of learning. I discussed this situation with my students in the class.
And as soon as I finished teaching my two classes and was driving slowly to the city I started pondering over this notorious Muslim violence in Nigeria. Then on my way, someone, an aged person dressed like a Muslim waved me to stop and give him a ride. Indeed, he was a Muslim. I did not stop. I passed by appearing as if I did not notice his presence by the roadside. As I drove off my heart would not allow me ignore the need of this Muslim just because he is a Muslim. The Lord convicted me of my own sin of resentment and anger against Muslims. I needed to show him the love that he does not deserve, the love of Christ that makes Christ to be the unique Savior of the world.
I went a short distance and then decided to reverse my car and come back to where he was standing. I asked him in Hausa language where he was going and he told me that his house was down along the road. I picked him and as we moved on, he asked me how the day was for me. I told him that the day makes me sad because Muslims are killing Christians and yet we are one people in one nation. That opened a dialogue between us and he confessed that he was truly against all these violent occurrences. He told me that he was the elder brother of the Governor in Bauchi where there was violence and that he has always told them to eschew violence.
We had a lengthy discussion which consequently developed into friendship. I let him out in front of his house and he told me to come back another day for further discussion. Is the Lord opening a way for the Gospel? I believe so. Our discussion removed the heavy burden of resentment against the Muslims and I found joy that I have an opportunity to present the gracious life of Christ to this old man. It is humanly difficult to love our enemy especially the Muslims but the Spirit says we do. So we comply.
Please, my loving friends, pray that the Lord would turn this man to himself through my further interaction with him. I would like to show him the undeserving love of Christ who died on the cross even for Muslims. I intend that if he is saved unto Christ, then through him I can also reach out to other Muslims in the city of Jos.