Yasmin's wandering mind jerked to attention. What was it the pastor just said?
Her sermon-daydream had begun with the sight of rainbow colors playing in the pastor's white hair. He did make quite a striking picture standing in a cocoon of sunlight filtered through stained glass behind the pulpit. But now, as he spoke, light glistened from his face where tears streaked down his cheeks. Maybe it wasn't what he'd just said, but how he said it.
The pastor tried again to speak through a constricted throat. "How is it we can feel such mixed emotions all at once? Anger to the point of murderous fury is coupled with grief that feels like a thick hand pulling out your heart by the roots; and, on top of it all, a sense of pure joy rests like a delicate butterfly, whispering 'God knows.' Yes, God does know all the terrible tragedy in this world that He died for. But, when the senseless happens, the 'Why? Lord!' screams from the depths of our being."
As the pastor took time out to wipe his face and blow his nose, Yasmin felt her own throat tighten.
The pastor continued, "My friend Madobe was murdered, last week." Soft groans of sympathy rumbled like distant thunder across the congregation.
"This young pastor knew he was a marked man, sharing the Good News in an area off limits to the Gospel. When earlier attempts to stop him failed, he could have considered himself warned. But, he kept right on, ministering to the small underground church in his corner of the world. He had done nothing to offend the authorities, yet they seemed helpless to protect him from the extremist group that called for his death.
"I'll spare you the details, but he was not only brutally murdered. The ones responsible prohibited anyone to bury him. They wanted to send a message. They intended for his body to be left to the dogs to serve as a warning to other Christians. And, even his family was so terrorized, no one dared to come forward, except....for a couple little children. They brought a blanket and covered Madobe’s body. And they sat beside him shooing away the flies and the dogs. And, the murderers must have been touched enough by this simple demonstration of mercy, that they left the children alone."
The pastor lifted his voice, wailing, "And the Lord tells us to LOVE these, our enemies!"
"Madobe," he continued in a softer tone, "is a picture of our precious Savior. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. We want to heap condemnation, even damnation, on our enemies. But, that isn't the way of Jesus. Even while they were killing Him, Jesus cried out, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!' He came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. That is the good news that rises above the horror that turns our knees to ice water. That is the joy of the Lord that is our STRENGTH as we proclaim God’s provision of reconciliation for all the world to know.
"Strange as it may seem, incomprehensible, in fact, Madobe's death is not a waste of a life with so much promise. How much of church history demonstrates for us that the blood of the martyrs advances the Gospel. I have no doubt that God is already using for good what the enemy means for evil. And so..."
Amid the chorus of voices around her responding with “Amen!” Yasmin silently wept. Inside her mind, she drew closer to join the children keeping watch beside Madobe's body.
"…And so, my brothers and sisters,” the pastor raised his arms as if to declare a touchdown, “ 'Rejoice! And, again I say, rejoice!’"
Copyright 2010 by Edy T Johnson
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Tears filled my eyes at your descriptive, heart-impacting story. I've struggled this week with "mixed emotions" after an abused child with down syndrome (near out city) was rescued from being locked in a 106 degree attic. Thank you for reminding me so clearly to love as Jesus did... blessings- Cindy
Edy - thank you for this great truth and sharing this gospel message. Dietrich Bonoeffer, German pastor and martyred by Hitler, railed against "Cheap Grace" that he saw in the German and American churches of his day. He said that grace is costly - even at the cost of our very lives. Blessings and peace. And thanks again!
Edy, what timing and how beautifully ministering.
As I walk amidst the heaviness of challenging circumstances in my own life, God used this to pierce my heart and encourage me to continue to intercede for a loved one currently wrapped in a robe of rebellion.
I realized that nothing could be worse than what our Lord experienced that day on Calvary. Even while they were killing Him, Jesus cried out, 'Father, forgive them,
Just thought you'd like to know how God used you for only "one" child.