By Brad Phillips "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecuted you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?" - Matthew 5:43-46
I recently returned from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where I personally oversaw some end-of-the-year relief distributions. I also had an opportunity to visit several friends living and working under constant war conditions.
One of our friends in the Nuba community is "Pastor Morris". Pastor Morris has been a driving force for coordinating the active church network in the mountains, and also leading the discipleship and evangelistic outreaches throughout the area.
I interviewed Pastor Morris about his work and learned a few new things about what the Nuba church is doing to share the gospel message during war time. One thing I learned was that the church has an ongoing prison ministry to the enemy Islamic POWs captured by the Nuba forces. The church is delivering food, clothing, and medicine, as well as sharing the gospel message to its enemies. Many of the prisoners have raped and pillaged the area for years. Others are just scared conscripts wanting to go home.
I really struggle with Christ's command to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." It's really hard! As I spoke with Morris that evening, I saw red dots in the distance, which were the glow of rockets being fired in our direction. Fortunately for us, they were meant for targets a few kilometers away. As we talked, I was just amazed to listen to the testimony of my brother as he told me about what he is doing to love the people shooting those rockets at us!
I must be honest that when I was speaking with Pastor Morris, I thought to myself, "I have one of the best jobs in the world." This thought came to me not because I am an action junkie and like to visit war zones! It is because I get to meet and support people like Morris.
It's people like him who are doing the really hard work: loving their enemies in the midst of their persecution. Our job of standing with our persecuted brothers is comparatively easy. It encourages the Nuba churches because they know they are not alone. Someone is standing beside them - even if oceans and deserts separate us.
I share this story with you because I hope you feel the same way about your role in this ministry. Your compassion is giving encouragement to a huge community of believers living under an oppressive Islamist regime. Your compassion is equipping them for a massive evangelistic outreach feeding souls as well as bodies. Both friends and enemies are eating at the banquet table of grace that you and I get to serve. It truly is some of the greatest work we can do. Thank you for serving with us.