(Jesus said) "... And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:20
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Concerning the Author: Normally, when I present our international devotions, I have a photograph of the author and give a little bit about his or her history with Lutheran Hour Ministries. I have not done that today. You see, our International Department has told me to do so would put at risk the individual and his family. Heeding the warning I was left with a choice: forget the devotion on which the person worked so hard, or remove his byline and ask you to understand. The devotion is simply too good not to share. So, without picture or author, the devotion:
It was tears of joy, not shame, which ran down Marat's cheeks, as he stood before the small crowd.
Standing before the group of 30, he read from his Bible: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19).
Marat looked at the people and remembered his first visit to this village about six months ago.
At that time they had shared their Christian faith with everyone. Their sharing produced results. People started avoiding them and when contact was made, it was done in secret.
Avoidance was replaced by hostility. Marat could remember how his wife, children, and himself had to run away from some young men who had set his house on fire and were trying to stone them. Marat recalled how he had tried to protect his family by using his own body as a shield to block the stones.
Only when they reached a military unit that transported them across the country's border, did they find peace and acceptance by fellow Christians. Two weeks after the stoning, Marat and his family returned to his home. They were prepared for the worst: a lot filled with charred ruins.
To their surprise, their house was under reconstruction. There was a new roof and windows which, along with labor, was being provided by his old neighbors.
Boldly, Marat started telling them about Jesus Christ, about His life and death on the cross. Everybody listened carefully and many people cried. That was when Marat noticed, behind the gate, the faces of ten men, the men who had chased him and his family.
Marat wondered if there would be a repeat of the hate-filled incident. He opened the gate and bowed to the ten, who bowed in return. They bowed, but they didn't look him in the face.
Marat invited them into his home. At the invitation one of the men looked up and asked with astonishment: "Do you invite us to your house after everything we did to you?"
Recognizing one of the stone-throwers, Marat debated for a moment. He pushed aside his personal desire to banish the young man and, knowing this was to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, he smilingly said, "Everything that was before is now forgotten and forgiven. Jesus loves you and, therefore, I love and I forgive you. Come and sit down with us."
Almost as one, the men expressed their thought: "This is how you treat us after we have burned your house and nearly killed you and your family with stones?"
Marat told them, "Your coming here today shows you are sorry. God forgives you, and so must I." Doubtfully, one of the men asked, "Will you not seek revenge on us and our families?"
"No," answered Marat.
"You are so strange," said one of the men, as he came in.
Other people followed, after him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in a world which neither understands, nor wants You, may I make a witness to the important changes the Savior has brought about in my life through His life, death and resurrection. Further, I ask that You cloak persecuted believers with Your protection and power. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries