In today’s media we are continually given a hefty diet on terror, whether in foreign lands or near to us. We ask ourselves, “how can this be?”
Terrorism goes as far back and as deeply rooted in the ancient tellings of Biblical proportion. The Bible tells of all too similar accounts in days long ago. In our American “enlightened” culture, we say, “that Book is nothing but violence and cruel acts.” As these modern day terrors unfold right before our eyes, we now must ask, how can we deny those ancient stories as anything but truth?
In the pages of the Old Testament we read examples, such as Moses and his challenge with the Pharoah of Egypt. Stories of the Hebrew people, held captive and treated brutally as slaves. The centuries old slavery stories and other accounts of bondage are part of a larger picture. A story revealing a personal God preparing a way for hope.
I’m reminded of a modern day story that occurred a little more than 20 years ago. The story involved friends living in a South American country. Terrorism was raging in their region at that time by a group known as the Shining Path. So much was the terror, the day came when these friends were taken captive with other expats and the local people living and working in the small village they called home.
Being held and surrounded by evil in this tiny town, the villagers were quite naturally afraid. Our friends did what they could to bring calm to their frightened friends, as well as praying for their own sanity. This violent group was known to act spontaneously and without mercy.
One morning, the leader of the group grabbed the husband of this particular couple, pushing him out onto the village street. Nudging him toward the edge of town, with guns held at his back, our friend was sure this was to be his last day on earth.
As they reached the edge of the village, the men began to question our friend, asking, “Where are the movies?” Movies? our friend was confused.
“American movies, we want them!” they demanded.
Ok….the only films he had were stored in his vehicle. Leading his captors to the car, he opened the trunk. Inside were videos entitled, “The Jesus Film“, adapted into their native language.
Grabbing the films, they promptly released our friend….and….left the village!
But, this story doesn’t end here.
It would be a few short years later, when a surprising turn of events became known.
Our friends were attending a conference. It was at this conference a man approached them, asking if they remembered him.
No, they couldn’t say they did. The man proceeded to explain he was among the terrorists who took this couple and the village captive that not yet forgotten day.
Our friends stood in awe as the man began to tell the next part of the story.
The terrorists had returned to their camp and immediately began watching the American films. This particular bundle, told through dramatization, the story of Jesus through the account written from the gospel of Luke. These men were captivated by this American made film. But, they weren’t prepared for the message.
Continuing his story, the former terrorist explained how he heard the words from the man Jesus. Pierced to the heart by Jesus’ story of redemption and love, dying for those who hated and tortured him, forgiving them to the point of death, to then overcome the grave – the terrorist turned his life toward love through the Christ, the Anointed one of God.
It was imperative this former terrorist leave the radical army. It would mean at great risk to his very life. He knew this, but he was compelled. Jesus showed the way out, he told our friends.
And, here he was, sharing his miraculous story. A bounty on his head if he should be captured. In his new freedom, this man was transformed. He became a new leader – bringing other radicals to a believing faith in Christ Jesus. He continues this work to this day…20 years later.
What man intends for evil, God intends for good.
Terrorism in many forms has been with us through the ages.
But, Jesus’ words give comfort and promise….
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Because he loved us first.
Do you have a story of inspiration, launching you from fear into faith beyond understanding?