Reuters quoted a spokesman for al-Shabab’s military operations, who admitted that “we sorted people out and released the Muslims.” Local news sources cited over 70 wounded. Kenyan government forces reportedly rescued over 500 from the standoff.And only people living under a stone are unaware of the February Isis massacre of 21 Christians in Libya in a recruiting video that was more like a glitzy production number, mixing music over the blood stained waters of the Mediterranean.
None of this is news. But there are a couple of things I heard of that tweak my heart. Things that make me resolve to try to be a better man on this Good Friday; perhaps the most somber day of the Christian calendar.
The first isn't in the Mideast or the Horn of Africa. It's in Pennsylvania. Lancaster County. Amish country. Does everyone know that after the Amish school house massacre in 2006, that just as the community tried to smother all of its own with love, tried to ensure every parent that lost a daughter that day was given as much love and support as people can give, they also reached out in compassion to the family of the murderer?
On the day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls was heard warning some young relatives not to hate the killer, saying, "We must not think evil of this man." Another Amish father noted, "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God." Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained: "I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts."Do you have that in your heart? Could you forgive someone who murdered your child? I don't think I could - absolutely not that fast. The parents of the school house murderer, dead by his own hand like most mass shooters, have a horrific burden to bear. Not only did they lose their child, their child stole the live of other people's children. Could you go to the parents of the person who killed your child and offer compassion?
A Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.
Second, go back to the Mideast; go back to the 21 Coptics on the beach in Libya. The Coptic Christians whose sons and brothers were massacred by ISIS are praying for the salvation of the ones who killed their family.
Invited to pray for his brothers' killers, Beshir prayed: "Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught."Could you do that? Do you have that in your heart? As followers of Christ we're called to be like him. Love our enemies. Pray for them. God wants that none should perish. In the spiritual sense, ISIS are prisoners of war; albeit a spiritual warfare and not the kind of war they think of. They are following an evil, even Satanic doctrine.
It has been said that faith has an easier time surviving horrible times than affluence, and that the biggest problem Western Christianity has is exactly that - our affluence. People draw on their faith when they're in trouble; when the doctor calls and the test results aren't good; when they can't make the rent or mortgage; bad times. When things are good, we think, "I've got this". It's saying I can't handle the boat unless the seas are perfectly glassy, or drive the car unless the road is perfectly smooth, level and straight.