​In this 2012 photo, Robert Irundu Mutundu, National Youth President for Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Community in Congo), and Dwight Short plan for future evangelism and sports clinics. One of them is scheduled for July. Photographer: Trisha Handrich. Click on image for high resolution version.

By Dwight Short
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Most of my "enemies" are those people who cheer against my favorite sports teams. I was humbled this past week by a story from some of our fellow Christians in Sidi, Burkina Faso, whose real-life enemies are so much more burdensome than mine.

 

 

When new leadership took office in Sidi a while back, there was an attempt to get rid of all Christians in the area because they refused to offer a sacrifice to ancient ancestors as an act of religious worship. It was so severe that threats to kill and destroy anyone not compliant with this new ruling poisoned all aspects of life in Sidi. Christians were also told to not plant any of their crops, which would also serve as a death sentence if they could not feed their families, as well as providing a source of income. Many religious leaders attempted to meet with the new village leaders to try to negotiate a peace plan, but the leaders kept avoiding them, and a period of grave uncertainty hung over the entire village. Despite all of the threats, Christians decided to trust in God's protection, and planted their crops as usual, knowing that there could be problems down the road. Their story reminds me of the time Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace for not bowing to a false God.

The stalemate continued through the growing season with no actions taken against the Christians, but the tensions continued as harvest time approached. When the village leader found himself in need of help with his cotton crop, the Christians decided to step forward and help him bring in one of the most labor-intensive crops in the area. Not only was this leader blown away by the unsolicited act of generosity, he was impressed that Christians had done this after he had been the vocal critic of their very existence in the village. They truly had made him feel like hot coals had been poured over his head (Romans 12:20), and they had shown him that God's love often comes from the most unexpected source. 

Perhaps your next-door neighbor would see the same thing in you if you offered to wash their car or mow their lawn after you just argued over the presidential candidates or some other controversy. Who is God calling you to love in his name? Who is the most detestable person you know, that might see God through your actions? 
Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV): "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, 'Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."  

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In addition to his consulting business, Short has also authored several books, including Kingdom Gains: What Every Christian Should Know Before Investing and Home is Where God Calls Us, the story of his aunt, Lodema Short, her missionary colleagues, and the students they taught, who are today's leaders in Congolese Mennonite churches. Short is an active mission leader at St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida. 

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