‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…’ Matthew 5:43-48
In August 2014, Release Potential had the opportunity to visit an inspiring group of Christians in Egypt – Christians who have given their all to serve their communities despite intense persecution. The team spent seven days with our partner organisation based in Cairo. Our partners play an important role in the work Release funds, so it was a privilege to meet staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to support Christians suffering for their faith.
The aim of the trip was to: grow in our understanding of persecution, to hear the stories of the reality of persecution and to pray with our brothers and sisters in the faith. I thought I was going to serve and ‘be a blessing’ but came away from the trip feeling truly blessed and encouraged in my faith.
After the first day or two, I struggled with the stories of injustice that many people face daily. Tears would flow, as they shared their struggles and the difficult walk they’ve experienced. Hearing about the response projects set up by our partners opened my eyes to see the importance of the role we play as the body of Christ. We are called to support one another through trial and adversity – practically and prayerfully. It was incredible to watch our partners meet the needs of many Christians suffering persecution. They started sharing story after story of how God showed up in the most desperate situations, making the impossible possible.
What impacted me the most was the display of unconditional and sacrificial love. The teams we met shared their frustrations and the worries, but were resilient, never giving up, because they understood something great about God’s love. They shared stories of people they would evangelise, that I couldn’t even imagine sharing the gospel with, for fear of my life. As they did this my heart became exposed and I realised that day that my love has a limit, a point that I struggle to break through.
So! What’s the answer? It is to do the hard thing… to adopt a ‘love without limits’ approach. Be the change you want to see and make it your Change Maker challenge. Choose to raise the standard by loving even when it hurts and there may be loss. My heart has been filled with God’s love for me, so in turn I want to love my enemies even if it hurts. So again I say, do the hard thing. Carry this message in your heart and as you put it into practice you will see a transformation – you will be able to love without expecting anything in return.
‘But I tell you, love your enemies’