Intermezzo Guest Blog: Update on Afghanistan

As Biden’s humanitarian and military crisis in Afghanistan proceeds, friends in Afghanistan are trying desperately to find a way out of the country, mostly over land into neighboring countries.  Imagine thinking “escaping to Iran” would be an attractive option!

In spite of the small number of Afghani Christians, missions agencies report that for several years Afghanistan has had the fastest growing population of Christ-followers, second only to Iran.  This story is from the son of an imam who hated Christians when he was 17, but found out that Christians were offering peace and life while the Muslims of whom he was part were threatening him with death for simply reading the Bible.  The following is a transcript from a Christianity Today podcast called Quick To Listen.  Good reading and information in Christianity Today.
__________________________________________

‘My Heart Is Broken’: An Afghan Pastor Grapples with the US Withdrawal
America’s departure and the Taliban’s ascent is forcing Christians out of the country.
Morgan Lee, August 20, 2021

2021-08-23 Taliban in KabulTaliban patrolling Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced that after close to 20 years, the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. Last week, as the military began its exit, the Taliban was ready and within days had seized control of the country. The ascent sparked widespread fear and led to thousands arriving at the airport only to find their flights out of the country had been canceled. Some even grabbed hold of an aircraft in desperation.

Biden defended the decision, arguing that Afghanistan’s leaders “gave up and fled the country.” He also said: “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments in the past week reinforced ending that US military involvement Afghanistan now was the right decision.”

He did concede: “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.” As the government fell, it was not clear if the US had done anything to protect those who had worked with the military as translators. Plans to resettle Afghans as refugees seemed to be formulated in real time. The rights of women and girls, which were suppressed under the Taliban’s previous time in power, also appeared in jeopardy. And the lives of Christians, who according to official numbers only make up a minuscule number of the country’s nearly 40 million people, seem in peril as well.

David Paiman is an Afghan pastor and evangelist. You can follow his ministry herePaiman joined global media manager Morgan Lee and news editor Daniel Silliman to discuss how he converted from Islam to Christianity, the withdrawal’s consequences for the church in Afghanistan, and how we can best support the country and people during this time.

The transcript is edited by Faith Ndlovu

Highlights from Quick to Listen: Episode #277

David Paiman: Thank you for your concern about Afghanistan. We are grieving and our hearts are heavy. We see the news that Afghanistan is blaring and everywhere in the street, we can see hopeless people are left behind. But we see the reality more when we talk to people inside Afghanistan.

I’ve been talking to many believers inside Afghanistan. They are crying out for help, and they are crying out for the American army, and some of them sent me a video of many women and girls.

They have been to the airport and they’re crying out to American soldiers to help them. They have been there to serve them and help them but that is over. What we are seeing is too much and my heart is broken.

We are here in America, we see what we see on Twitter or television, but generally speaking, what do you find that Americans don’t know about Afghanistan that you really want them to know? What do they maybe misunderstand about what they do know?

David Paiman: Americans should know about Afghan believers, those who have converted to Christianity. Their lives are in danger, especially for people who are registered as Christians in Afghanistan. There are about many families there and they already got their identity. Many other Afghan believers only registered but they don’t have their identity cards yet; it’s still being processed. Suddenly everything has turned in a different way and they are in desperate need of help. Many people just heard the Taliban say very good news using soft words to say, “we forgive everyone, and we will do our best to build the country.” That’s not the truth. The truth we heard from inside is that they are going from house to house to search for people. They have been to many Afghan believers’ houses, and they took their Bibles. Praise God that the Afghan believers were not at their home. But they’re still searching for them.

Did President Ghani’s government require Christians to register?

David Paiman: They were not required to register, but they registered for the next generation. They don’t want their children to be called Muslims, they want their identity to be Christian.

Is your religion something that is printed on your ID cards?

David Paiman: Yes. But what the system did, because they don’t like Christians, when they printed out the cards for Christians they print out “other.” If they print out “Christian,” they face trouble with their own family, they cannot go to the bank, they cannot get a license, they cannot get anything. In reality they are Christian but they print out “other,” not Christian.

So, this was a big step historically for people to start declaring themselves in this official way, that they’re Christian and making public their faith, sometimes at great risk.

Afghanistan is a big country. Was this happening in Kabul? Was this happening in the villages? Where were these Christians deciding to take the stand?

David Paiman: All the Christians that registered are in Kabul. Today I heard the news, which I hope is false news. But I heard that three Christian families were taken by the Taliban and their houses were burned. We don’t know where they are, but I’m not sure yet that that is exactly what’s going on there.

There are very few Christians that live in this country. How did people end up hearing the gospel?

David Paiman: There are a lot of Christians during these two, three years. I am in media and get many calls every day, at least 10 calls from Afghanistan.

They want to receive Christ. Many house churches inside Afghanistan have started sharing the gospel with each other. Some families have been openly sharing the gospel with people and others heard from media, from Facebook, YouTube, and TV. But whenever they receive Christ, we try to connect them with them to get discipled and to grow in Christ, inside Afghanistan.

Take us back to 2001 when America invaded, what was that like for you? What was that like for Christians in the country?

David Paiman: Yeah, that’s what I call false hope. I will never forget in 2001 when the American army came and took over, everyone was celebrating, everyone got freedom and people were praising and thankful to America. Exactly 20 years later we see what’s happening now.

Where were you living at that time?

David Paiman: I was in Saudi Arabia.

With the hope that you experienced, what did you think might happen?

David Paiman: The real hope is Jesus Christ. Afghanistan has been trying many ways to get hope, to get peace inside Afghanistan, but they did not try Jesus Christ. They did not try God. They did not try His love and His mercy. My prayer and zeal are to share Christ with them. They can receive Christ and they can get the real hope, the living hope that never ends.

How old were you back in 2001?

David Paiman: I was about 17 years old.

What did you hear about the American military during that time?

David Paiman: I was very excited because I was a Muslim from Hazara tribes. My tribe experienced the pressure of the Taliban, because mostly Hazara from Shiá Muslim and all Taliban from Sunni Muslim. I saw many Hazara killed by the Taliban in those times and when America came in 2001, I was so excited that we got freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of everything that we could practice in Afghanistan.

Did that happen when the US first showed up in the first year or two?

David Paiman: From 2001 to 2006 it was good. From 2006 to 2010 it changed a little. From 2010 to 2021 it was not a good situation in Afghanistan as well because the government was corrupt. However, America helped the Afghanistan government, the Afghanistan government did not do what they were supposed to do. I don’t want to go into politics. I’m angry with Joe Biden because he said Afghanistan was not willing to take care of their country, yet billions of dollars have been used to help them.

It’s painful that many Afghanistans leave it behind and now we see that Afghanistan is bleeding and people are crying out for help, but it’s because they don’t take care of their own country.

Talking about the issue of women and girls, how did you notice how they were treated before the Americans arrived?

David Paiman: The girls could not go to school and the women could not go out without any man and there was trouble. Now Taliban is a little bit different, but this morning I heard the news that the girls and the women cannot go out without any men. I don’t know what to say about the Taliban 20 years ago and now, I don’t think they have changed. It’s still the same, the Sharia never changes.

But under the past 20 years though, you saw girls going to school, which was not happening under the Taliban. And you saw way more women working?

David Paiman: Yeah exactly.

Did you have any women who were leading churches or doing evangelism, or did they show up in church leadership too?

David Paiman: Yes, my sister-in-law, who is leading a house church there under the men’s leadership. She tries to help other women, does Bible study with them, and leads them woman to woman and men to men; under the men’s leadership which is what the Bible says.

Now the fear is that the schools that were open to girls are going to be closed and as you said, women may not be able to leave the house without men?

David Paiman: Yes. They cannot leave the house without the men. A few schools are open, but only girls under 14 years can go to school. We don’t know yet about college. In Herat city last week, the girls were supposed to go to college, but the Taliban stopped them.

You mentioned that in 2001 you were a Muslim. How did Jesus find you?

David Paiman: I didn’t want to come to the faith. I hated Christians and didn’t want to be one because I’m from a very religious Muslim background.

My father was an imam. They taught me how to be a good Muslim. I have been to Mecca six times, and I practiced my religion very well because I thought the Muslim religion is the only religion, the only way to God. But after my sixth pilgrimage to Mecca, a stranger came to me from Syria and he shared his testimony, how he received Christ inside the Mecca, how he saw the vision of Christ during his pilgrimage in Mecca. That made me get angry with him. I tried to fight with him. I wanted to kill him. But after 45 minutes of our conversation, he asked me, “Would you please let me pray for you?”

I was very proud. I said, “Okay, you pray for me. I will pray for you.” When he started to pray, I closed my eyes to listen to him and it seemed that he knew my problem. He knew my heart. He knew that I’m searching for real peace and that prayer led me to Christ. After he finished his prayer, the big questions came to my mind.

I said, “If he is an infidel, how could he know my heart?” He then gave me a New Testament Bible. I read but I didn’t accept it because my father taught me that the Bible is corrupt.

Six months later I went to Afghanistan, and I shared this experience with my best friend. He then gave me a Bible in my language. He said not to worry about the New Testament I should just start from Genesis. When I started reading from Genesis, I knew inside my heart that something is true here because God Himself is reaching humans, to bring them back to Him. It was so clear to me that this is God Himself wanting human beings to come to Him. I then took the Bible from him.

I started to read the Bible in my city Ghazni, which is about 250 kilometers from Kabul, and I started comparing the Bible and Quran. With two of my friends, every day we started comparing the Bible and the Koran to try to find which part of the Bible is corrupt.

While I was still reading the Bible, I was still a Muslim practicing Muslim, and I got caught by the police because somebody reported that I was reading the Bible. They took the Bible from me. I found myself in the mosque and there were about 60 or 70 people there and they started asking me why I was reading the Bible. I argued with the imam and started asking him a question from the Quran himself, he could not answer me. He started a claim that he proved that I was a Christian. I was not a Christian. I was Muslim. I did not want to become a Christian.

They started beating me until I became unconscious. I then found myself in a police station. I gave them a lot of money and then I ran away from the police station. I went to Kabul. I was hiding in a safety house, which had a lot of Americans.

A lady from Canada who was a missionary helped me to escape from my country to India. I didn’t know she was a missionary at that time. In India, I met Afghan Christians and I was very angry with them. I started to fight with them. One of the guys I fought with is now inside Afghanistan and is sharing the gospel there.

Three months later, one of my friends had epilepsy. I called the pastor and his friend, and they came and prayed for my friend who had epilepsy. At that moment he got healed and I saw the power, actually, I felt the power. I knew then there was power in the name of Jesus. I went to the bathroom, and I received Christ and asked Him to come into my life and I received Him. I gave my life to Christ in 2008.

Why did you go to the bathroom?

David Paiman: Because I didn’t want to receive Christ in front of them because I didn’t want to become a Christian.

I didn’t want them to know that I am receiving Christ. I wanted to receive Christ very secretly.

How did that practically change your life in 2008?

David Paiman: On that night after I came out from the bathroom and had washed my face as I had been crying, I proceeded to make tea for my guests and the pastor knew something had happened to me. After the tea service, the pastor came to me and asked if he could pray for me.

I said, “of course.” He put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. I started to cry and confess my sin. The next day everything changed. I felt different. I talked differently and everything changed in my life. I saw things differently. I could see people differently and I started sharing the gospel the next day, right away.

I started sharing the gospel with people. I told them only Jesus could save their lives. Only Jesus can give you peace only Jesus can give you hope.

When you started telling people did anyone believe you? Did anyone decide to learn more about Christianity?

David Paiman: At first believers didn’t believe me because I had been persecuting them.

They thought maybe I had come from the Afghan government because I had a very close friendship with the embassy. They thought maybe I was a spy from them. But later on, they believed me.

But yeah. I saw many people come to Christ in India. I received Christ in India in 2008.

And then you started telling people in India for many years?

David Paiman: Yes. I was in India for five and a half years, and then I moved to Indonesia. I was in Indonesia for three years.

We started house churches there and then we baptized about 72 Iranian people. During those three years, 17 Afghan Muslims converted to Christ, and we baptized them. In 2015, I moved to Australia. I started an Afghan church in Sydney, Australia till 2019.

In 2019, I moved here and now we have a ministry. We are helping refugees and we started our house church here in Memphis, Tennessee.

What do you find about God or Jesus resonates with Afghans? What do they love about Christianity?

David Paiman: I heard many people like my friends, especially here saying they see the reality of love in Christian life.

They love you unconditionally. They don’t expect you to do something. They love you just as you are. In Afghan culture when you love some people you expect them to love you back but many of them say they see true love here in American people and Christian people.

That love has now opened the door for us. We can share the gospel with our Afghan friends here.

What’s your sense of what American Christians should be doing out of love right now?

David Paiman: For me, all Christians should practice at least two things, go, and give. If you cannot go, you should give. If you’re a believer, you have to share the gospel, go, or give, giving and supporting it’s all the one part. Christians in America can also pray and help financially. Send them food to eat. This morning I talked to one leader and he’s ready to go to Christ and what he asked me was, “after I go will you please take care of my family.”

He shared Philippians 1:20 (Phil 2:20) which says, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He said, “to die, I get my life. I start my life with Christ” and that encouraged me. The only thing for me is the burden of his family. He has given his life to Christ.

I have a burden in my heart to take care of his family and it’s the burden for all Christians in America and to cry out to God and pray for them. If you know people in Afghanistan help them out of Afghanistan. That’s the greatest help.

So, you would say American Christians should also support welcoming thousands of refugees here.

David Paiman: Exactly.

What type of long-term impact do you think that the withdrawal will have on the mission field in Afghanistan?

David Paiman: To help Afghan believers inside of Afghanistan. The missionary can easily come out of Afghanistan, but Afghanistans are left behind.

If they are discipled well, they can share the gospel inside Afghanistan. That for me is long-term, helping Afghan Christians inside Afghanistan. It should start from inside of Afghanistan not from outside Afghanistan, that’s my opinion.

Because now Afghans will be leading these churches, not foreigners?

David Paiman: No, Afghans should start leading the church. They should start discipling people and that’s all Afghans are doing now.

How do the Christians that you meet find Christianity? Who tells them about it?

David Paiman: It’s mostly from media, from Facebook, YouTube, radio, TV, those are the four sources that we have inside Afghanistan. Now it’s not too difficult we can give them the bible. When they’re sleeping in the bed, they can hear the gospel, and no one can stop that.

This past week has been demoralizing. How has it affected your faith in God?

David Paiman: Whenever I talk to believers inside Afghanistan, I find that their faith is very big and mine is very low, and they give their life to Christ. Jesus said, “if you don’t take your cross, you are not worthy to follow Me, if you don’t confess Me in front of people, I will not confess you in front of My Father. That’s exactly what they are doing now. They took their cross willingly and they tried to come under the grace of God, joyfully give their life to Jesus.

Daniel Silliman: Yeah. That’s compelling, that’s what we all believe as Christians and that’s our call daily to take up our cross and the challenges that they’re facing are serious. Thanks for sharing that with us.

David Paiman: The other thing that American believers and Americans should know is this word about the church. In Afghanistan, people know they are the church, and they understand that. But here, mostly most of America, they say the building is a church. There is a building with a cross on it that’s what they call church but, in Afghanistan, the real church is going on.

I’m so encouraged by their ministry.

What are you praying for as you speak to people back in Afghanistan and Afghans here?

David Paiman: To be honest in the first two, three days, I didn’t know how to pray, and I could not pray because my heart was so heavy and when I saw the news, I was so upset with Americans, I was so upset with the missionaries. I was so angry and that’s my human nature. I could not pray but praise God when I talked to them, they encouraged me. They said, “Jesus is with us now.” Now my prayer for Afghanistans, especially for believers is for the grace of God to be always over them because they cannot do anything out of the grace of God. With the grace of God, they can do all things. That’s my prayer.

As we close our conversation, is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know, any information you’ve heard from your friends and family back in Afghanistan that you want to share, or anything we didn’t ask you about?

David Paiman: Yeah, please pray for believers. They are leaving the country, especially pray for two families who just arrived in Pakistan, three families that are in Iran now, and four families that are in Tajikistan. Please pray for them and specifically pray for four families inside Afghanistan. I think I already mentioned their life is seriously in danger.

In their new countries, what should we pray for them, that they get connected to a church community and build their lives someplace new?

David Paiman: Yes, we are praying for them to make contact with other believers at churches and their second countries. Pray for us here that we can make decisions wisely and that we don’t give them false hope or false promises.

Would you be willing to end our show in a word of prayer?

David Paiman: Sure.
Dear Father. You are a good father. I know you know everything about my country. You love my people. You love the Taliban. You love even the people persecuting us. Lord. You command us to love them back. Please help Afghan Christians, especially those inside the country to love them and share your words with them. Lord, I pray for your protection over believers inside Afghanistan I pray for my people, they’re hopeless. They just see the darkness. Lord, I pray that your light will shine on them. Open their minds and their hearts to see you and to see that you love them to see that You died for them. Lord, open their eyes so that they can taste and see that you are a good God.

You are a merciful, God. Lord, I pray for the American army in Afghanistan. I pray that you protect them from evil. Help them, give them the wisdom to choose the right people, and bring them out. Lord, I also pray for my brothers and sisters outside Afghanistan. I pray for the churches. Thank you for my spiritual family here, Lord, they encourage us. Lord. I pray that you give them wisdom and knowledge to help us in Your way, not in their way. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Coming Soon To A Planet Near You – Part 2

IMG_6302Last week I presented a synopsis of events to be expected sometime soon.  How soon?  No one knows, and if someone claims to know, leave as wide a distance between him and you as there is between his brain and reality.  Even Jesus claimed only the Father in Heaven knows the day or the hour that Jesus is to return to this earth to begin its last age.

That said, it is certain that the return of Jesus, called The Christ, is nearer than it was 2000 years ago when He left.  Some surmise the history of the world is a “week” of ‘1000-year’ days.  This is a very plausible theory for Young Earth theorists: 4000 years from Creation to the advent of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea; 2000 years of the Church Age; 1000 years of Christ’s millennial reign; concluded with God’s recreation of a New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21).

Since we do not know exactly the year of Jesus’ birth, this remains a possible interpretation of time for at least another 20-80 years. (This includes allowance for questions of exactly when to begin the 2000 year church age.)  This would propose that we are very close to the end of time as we have known it, again though, not knowing the day or the hour, or I would point out, the year or even decade.  However, given the shape of world events it is very difficult to imagine The Day waiting more than another few decades.

However, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your investigation into these propositions!  You must not depend on someone else, not even me, Martin Luther, the Pope, Joel Rosenberg, John Stott or any other to feed you with such milk.  You need to examine Scripture to discover what it says.  To not do so is to remain a spiritual baby, accepting “predigested milklike infants, unable to feed themselves.  There is nothing wrong with starting out as a suckling, but think of how sad we feel if we see an adult who has never learned to feed himself or clean his own bottom.  Though you may be new to faith in Jesus, begin to train yourself to read the Bible.  If you have been walking with Jesus for even a few years, you should be more mature and able to read the Word and apply it to your daily activities, daily ingesting the food of the Scriptures and doing what it says, praying with the understanding and in the Spirit.

So I encourage you to read the first few verses of Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”  Do not be dissuaded by those who would say this book is too confusing or too full of symbols which must be studied in historical context.  The book itself says you will be blessed if you read it or listen to its reading!

Along side of this, to understand what the Bible teaches about End Times (Eschatology), one needs to read Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 12; Ezekiel 7-8, 17, 38-39; Daniel 7-12; Joel 2; Zechariah 1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Timothy 1, 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1-3; 1 John 2; and Jude.  There are other references in the Bible to the End Times, but these are the main ones wherein it is a theme of the writing and the study of these, with Revelation, will give one a fair grasp of what we are allowed to understand of what is to come.

Please underscore this: WHEN you believe Jesus is returning is not as important as your belief that HE IS RETURNING!  There are differing views on the events listed in my synopsis last week, and I make no claim to fully understand everything about these things, nor to have every detail correct.  This is the best understanding to which I have come based on years of study and examination of Scripture.  But faith in Jesus is not dependent on agreement on these details of eschatology. 

But these things I do know!  What kind of people should we be, especially as we gain understanding of God’s plan for the ages?  First, love your family! (1Timothy 5:8)  Next love your fellow Christ-followers! (Galatians 6:9)  Then, love your neighbors, those in your subdivision, your community, your city and county. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31)  And then, if you are going to follow Jesus, get ready for some reeeally tough instruction: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44

That’s right, pray FOR bad people!  Do not pray against them; do not pray for their deaths or for their destruction.  Leave that up to Father; “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35)

We must pray FOR our enemies.  For that politician who represents everything you voted against in the last election; for that relative who makes you feel like you want to avoid them forever; for that guy who drives like a maniac, running stop signs and racing to cut you off; for that woman who swears so terribly she makes sailors blush; for that person responsible for your loved one’s death; yes, pray for your enemy, that they will see how they have been deceived and turn from their wrong actions.  This is God’s heart for His enemies: Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

Friend, the time is short.  Jesus will come back, maybe in the short few years I have left on Earth; maybe later today or tomorrow; maybe not for another decade or more.  But He WILL come back, and when He does it will be too late to get ready.

Look for Part 3 on .

Considerations on Praying FOR an Enemy

Perhaps last week’s blog, HOW Are You Praying FOR Your Enemies? (April 14, 2020), would have been better called WHY We Should Pray FOR Our Enemies.  So today I will address some practical considerations for HOW to Pray FOR Your Enemies.

First, keep foremost in mind that Father wants our hearts to begin to align with His despite what you read in the Psalms.  Remember, the Psalms are hymns of praise and prayers offered by fallible humans to their Creator.  This is not to suggest there are errors in the Bible, but just as we do not take theological lessons from the historical books unless they are clearly elucidated elsewhere, we should be careful in drawing lessons from the Psalms when we are reading the pleas of hearts in distress.  When did you hear a “worship song” based on Psalm 109:1-15?

Remember that we were once enemies of the cross, even if you accepted Jesus when you were three or four years old.  Until you surrendered control of your life to Him, YOU were in charge of your life, and God help the one who interfered with YOUR plans!  Many of us remained capricious followers of Jesus even after great spiritual experiences in our youth, unstable and fickle.  While in a fit of pique we may agree with the Psalmist when he cries for Father to make our enemy’s children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit” (Psalm 109:10), it is not Father’s heart to punish children for the sins of their dads (Ezekiel 18:19-20).

Second, however, prayer FOR an enemy does not mean asking Father to make his plans succeed!  When someone intends evil it is our responsibility, as much as we are able, to resist such intentions.  But we are not to hate the person who needs salvation.

When Jesus confronted Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians and criticized them or humiliated them with His superior reasoning, it still came from a heart that was looking for what was best for them, as well as to prevent them from influencing the masses of people from following them.  But when it came to one-on-one His heart went out to those who loved money (or anything else) more than Him or His righteousness (Mark 10:17-22).  Like Father, he wanted His enemies to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).  That is how you and I got into the Kingdom!  Dare we deny someone else entry because we have made it!?

Third, we must be clear in our opposition to that which is opposed to godliness, but we must do so as gently as Jesus, who would not quarrel nor break someone who was bruised by life, nor snuff out one who had even a spark of hope in him (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 12:19-20).  “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24).

The difficulty in “loving the sinner but hating the sin” is more easily understood if we realize how often we do this for ourselves.  (See   for more detail on this.)  When we do something foolish or unrighteous, we make every kind of excuse possible until we finally fall at Jesus’ feet and ask for His mercy.  This is because I sometimes do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).  And my love for myself compels me to hate what I do, more so as I get to know Jesus better.

So when Jesus calls us to love our enemies as ourselves and pray for them, this is what He has in mind.  We are to approach our prayers FOR our enemies recognizing that they were deceived and that continuation on the path they are on will lead to their eternal separation from the Lord of life; isolation where there is weeping, cruel loneliness that never ends, filled with longings that will never be satisfied, and outer darkness that lets in absolutely no light (Matthew 8:11-12).  As you align your heart with His, you will find yourself looking into that abyss and thinking, “I would not wish that for my worst enemy!”

Now you are ready to reach out in love, even to your enemies.  So ask Father to reveal Himself to your enemy.  Ask Him to let them see clearly the results of the choices they are making.  Ask Him to guide others or circumstances around them so they will experience what they need, and not suffer the anger we feel at them.  Ask Him how you might be able to shed light into their darkness (and not heat 😤!).  And prepare to keep on loving them even if they refuse your heart to help.

  • So pray FOR the President that he will recognize his shortcomings and humbly ask for guidance when he needs it.
  • So pray FOR Nancy Pelosi that she will come to understand how her disrespect only reflects her immaturity and inability.
  • So pray FOR that Muslim neighbor with a burka and FOR her husband that they might come to knowledge of the Truth.
  • So pray FOR the pro-abortionist who screams how lucky she is to have had an abortion so that she can now afford a fancy car and easy lifestyle.
  • So pray FOR the neighbor who seems to enjoy harassing you.
  • So pray FOR that ex-spouse that they will experience forgiveness and so forgive you.
  • So pray FOR your son or daughter who has turned his/her back on the faith they were taught.

Some you may see transformed as you live out Christ’s life before them.  Some you may be able to speak with, and influence, even in a small way, to consider their course.  Some you will have to simply leave in Father’s hands, fearing for their end that they may not turn in time.  But pray FOR them, that they will.  That is HOW we should pray FOR our enemies.

It took a miracle.

2018-11-25 Milky Wav Over Devils Tower

Last week () I concluded, “So go ahead and ask me to pray, but don’t expect any miracle.”  But there are some problems we face that will not be fixed without a miracle!  Where can we go with things that seem insurmountable: loved ones who refuse to trust Jesus, church leaders who do not care if they deafen their attendees, friends with progressive illnesses for which there is no human cure; international issues over which we have no say?

Based on John 6:35-69, Jesus may have not been such a wonderful teacher as some surmise.  Actually, He was the best teacher ever, but His discourse at this juncture did not win any trophies or marks for “Best Teacher of the Year” award.  Instead of motivating His disciples to deepen their understanding of what it meant to follow Him, many of them grumbled and argued and turned away.  It did not improve His case when He asked the Jewish followers, for whom cannibalism was anathema, to eat His flesh and drink His blood!

Then He asked the Twelve, His Apostles, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Peter, always quick to spout off, answered for the group: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   So to whom else can we go?

But when we pray, do we expect a miracle?  When Ken prayed for Yolanda’s baby, wracked with meningitis, maybe some of us did, maybe some of us didn’t (see November 18, 2018).  But the baby was well by the next day.  When we prayed for my 45 year old sister-in-law to be healed from cancer, many shared a sense of faith that a miraculous healing was just waiting for us to see her.  Then she died two days after we arrived.

When Hannah prayed for a child, she prayed for years, enduring the scorn of her neighbors and her husband’s second wife (See 1 Samuel 1).  The high priest, Eli, not the most sensitive guy in the Old Testament, thought she was drunk as she was praying silently with tears.  (Be glad he is not your worship pastor!)  But Father spoke through this haphazard priest and he prophesied that her prayer would be answered with a resounding Yes from God.

How do we pray and not doubt as we are instructed in Matthew 21:21?  We must pray with the same faith Hannah had, trusting that God will answer in His time with either a Yes, a No, or a Wait, even if our hearts are breaking as we wait.

The faith we have to exercise is the same as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known by their Babylonian monikers, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Faced with certain doom from the king’s fiery furnace if they did not worship his statue, they answered his charges, If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)  Trust God without compromise.

So go ahead and ask me to pray.  I am not holy or specially good that He has to listen to me.  There is no magic connection or unusual power in my prayers.  But if you want me to share your burdens, ask me to pray.  I will just talk with The God Who Is Here, a constant Presence (See ) who keeps reminding me how inadequate and incompetent I am without Him.

And you can talk with Him, too.  Anyone can (Acts 17:27).  And you might experience a miracle.

John Peterson’s song has been on my mind a few days, but rather than offer one link to Youtube, here you will find four renditions, from acapella to reggae.  Enjoy whichever one touches your heart.

It Took A Miracle By John W. Peterson

My Father is omnipotent,
On that you can rely;
A God of might and miracles,
‘Tis written in the sky;

Chorus
It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space,
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!

Tho’ here His glory has been shown,
We will not fully see;
The wonders of His might and throne,
Until eternity!

The Bible tells us of His pow’r,
And wisdom all way through;
And ev’ry little bird and flow’r
Are testimonies, too.