JESUS says Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5.44
And here are some of my favourite examples of that in action;
In 1943 LEONARD WILSON, interned by the Japanese in Singapore, was taken to Changi prison and endured two days of torture.
Bound to a table he was beaten with three fold knotted ropes by relays of soldiers. In the middle of the torture they asked him if he still believed in God. He replied
‘God does not save me by freeing me from pain or punishment. But he saves me by giving me the Spirit to bear it.’
And when they asked why he did not curse them, he told them;
‘it is because I am a follower of Jesus Christ who taught us that we are all brothers.’
The soldiers’ faces were hard and cruel but, by the grace of God he saw those men as they once were as little children playing with their bothers and sisters.
While he was being beaten the words of a hymn came to him;
Look Father, look on his anointed face, and only look on us a found in him.
In 1947, as bishop, he returned to Singapore. Some of those who came for baptism and confirmation were Japanese prisoners, and one of them was a military policeman who had tortured him four years earlier. Leonard wrote;
‘I have seldom seen so great a change in a man. He looked gentle and peaceful, and received communion at my hands in prison’
(John Leonard Wilson, Confessor of the Faith, p33f. 1973, Roy Mackay)
I SHALL NOT HATE
is the book of IZZELDIN ABUELAISH from Gaza.
In January 2009, Dr Abuelaish was a consultant in an Israeli hospital, when there was an Israeli military assault on his home in Gaza. A rocket killed three of his six daughters, and his niece. Another daughter, another niece and two brothers were gravely injured. In his book he does not blame the soldier who fired the rocket but he does blame the system which gave the soldier the weapons and the orders to fire.
He writes ‘It is the weakest who use the gun. Forgiveness relieves you of hate and anger, and leaves me stronger to seek justice for these innocent girls.’ His vocation is ‘to reveal the secrets of humiliation and dislocation in Gaza and the suffocation that comes from a siege, so that once and for all Palestinians and Israelis can find a way to live side by side.’
LE CHAMBON SUR LIGNON is a village in France where Jews were sheltered in 1939-45
Pastor ANDRE TROCME and two colleagues were imprisoned for their opposition to the Nazi inspired Vichy government’s anti-semitism. The heroic villagers of this mountain plateau facilitated the escape or the assimilation of several thousand Jewish refugees.
These three were released from prison camp, but Trocme’s cousin Daniel was deported to a death camp. In 1944 some Germans were taken prisoner locally. On a Sunday in August Andre preached the same sermon in German to prisoners in the afternoon as he had preached in French in the morning. His theme was justice truth and non-violence, which we must practice because our offences have been forgiven by God.
When enraged by injustice, pray for love:
love for enemies; love for oppressors and oppressed;
loving prayer and living love.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love
Make us instruments of your peace