(Jesus said) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:43-44
Fifteen-year-old Nouman Masih died on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.
You don't know Masih; even so, I'd like to share just two things about him.
First, you should know that there was no need for Masih, a citizen of Pakistan, to die. Five days before he passed away, he was walking on his way to his cloth-stitching job. He was approached and stopped by two men, two Muslim men.
They asked him if he was Muslim or if he was a Christian.
The lad answered truthfully. He told his questioners that Jesus was his Savior. They didn't like his answer. They didn't like his answer so much that they began to beat Masih. It wasn't a fight he could win. When he was able to break free for a moment, Masih ran for his life. Tragically, his attackers weren't done with him. They gave chase and caught the boy.
They doused him in kerosene and set him on fire. Before the flames were extinguished, Masih was burned on 55 percent of his body.
Taken to a hospital, the doctors said they thought Masih might survive his injuries. But this Pakistani hospital is not equipped to save a boy who is burned on 55 percent of his body. So, Nouman Masih died, the most recent of a long line of Christian martyrs.
That's the first thing I wanted you to know about this boy.
Here's the second: before he died, Masih forgave those who had murdered him. Although he wanted to see his assailants prosecuted for what they had done, that desire wasn't motivated by a thirst for revenge. He just wanted to make sure they didn't do the same thing to other Christians.
That being said, Masih forgave his assailants.
I've tried to decide what I would have done if I had been him. Would I forgive those who had persecuted and martyred me? I've tried to decide what I would do if Nouman Masih had been my son. I wondered how seriously I take Jesus' words which tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
I still don't have the answers; maybe you don't either.
One thing for sure, Nouman Masih is my brother; a hero of the faith who has set an example. He has shown me how to witness; he has shown me how to love my enemy, and he has shown me how important it should be for us to love Jesus, who first loved us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, be with our brothers and sisters around the world whose suffering proclaims the power of salvation in their lives. Be with me so I may learn to love and pray for all those who have done me wrong. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries