“Their culture is not like ours. They have a million gods, how can you convince them about Jesus? It sounds too dangerous and difficult , I sure wish you’d change your mind”, dad urged.
“Don’t worry dad, I believe God will show me the way as I start obeying”
Graham replayed the conversation with his dad twenty years ago, when he had decided to adopt India as his mission home. Things weren’t going so well now, he had started receiving anonymous phone threats. For the first time, he was being forced to realize these were not his people, this was not his home. He hadn’t shared his concern with his family not even his wife, and it was weighing him down. How must I win the hearts of those people Lord, Graham sighed as he contemplated the situation at his church in the village. The few who had accepted Jesus last Sunday, didn’t want to get baptized for fear of their society. Others who were regular at church had slowly started shying away. A new hatred had risen amongst a group of rebels as they saw Graham’s church build homes, hospitals and schools for the locals. They had begun threatening all Christians, from going to church and had asked them to warn Graham to stop trying to lure them into Christianity with the baits of buildings and generosity.
“Daddy”, Timothy’s voice interrupted Graham’s reminiscing. His seven year old, peeked in through the window, “we’re getting late for the camp? ”.
“I’ll be right there Tim”.
Emma, his wife and Esther his twelve year old daughter joined him , summoned by a perky Philip, the nine year old, dragging his knapsack along.
They loaded their wagon and drove off to the slightly wooded area where they were meeting other Christians for fellowship and to be an encouragement, during this trying time.
The camp was wonderful. Graham didn’t get a chance to worry, as he mingled with other believers. The Lord lightened his heavy heart as they worshipped by the camp fire that cool evening. With Esther leaning on his shoulder and the two tired boys drowsing by his side, Graham reached for Emma’s hand and whispered a prayer of gratefulness for everything he had. Emma smiled, as she recalled her first meeting with Graham at the leprosy camp. He hadn’t changed a bit, his passion for the lost, stronger than ever.
Evening turned into night and the campfire had reduced to embers. Graham called the boys to go sleep in the wagon and kissed Esther and Emma goodnight as they headed off to the women’s dormitory.
In the wee hours of the morning, the campers were jolted from their sleep by a treacherous explosion. Everyone gathered around the site of the incident. Emma jostled Esther awake and they ran outside with the other women, only to find people gathering around the burning remains of their wagon. Hoping against hope, Emma and Esther scanned the wagon with frantic eyes, but couldn’t see any signs of life. Graham and the boys were burnt alive. The campers stood aghast as they watched the flames leap skyward. Dead silence covered the area , only broken by the rustling of leaves as some campers desperately ran with buckets of water to drench the fire.
Meanwhile as word got out, a religiously varied country watched agape as media revealed the shameful act of a group of religious activists. Some condemned the brutal attack, while others condoned the sinners. A nation awaited Emma’s interview and verdict, craving another religious riot, this time with Christians.
“Madam”, asked an overzealous journalist, “what kind of punishment do you think your family’s murderers deserve”, hoping to ignite a fiery spark.
Forgiving patience looked provocation straight in the eye and Emma replied, “I forgive them”.
Taken aback, provocation lingered , hoping to change Emma’s mind and asked, “But how can you forgive them?”
“I myself am a sinner and my Loving God has forgiven me. It is because of His patience that we are not consumed. This forgiveness in my life has strengthened my heart to forgive.”, she said as she excused herself from the journalist.
The perpetrators were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Why not a death sentence, I wonder. I believe it is God’s patience giving them a chance for salvation, affirming the prayer Emma and Esther carry in their hearts, as they continue with Graham’s mission even to this day.
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