Pastor Nassir* opened his church to those who had a history of rejecting his people, even his family. He, too, once had anger toward them, but God had brought healing.
Simply for hosting this people group, his church lost many members, and others feared for their security, for they were frequently attacked in the Muslim neighborhood where they lived. Pastor Nassir, however, had a heart for people to hear the gospel there, so he opened his church to them. The church was a beautiful, gospel-driven church. As a result of Pastor Nassir opening his church to this specific group, every once in a while, people would break their sign boards, and do things to show they were not wanted in the neighborhood. But he lived there, and he loved these people, and soon they loved him in turn; people saw in him the purity of Christ.
The nearby mosque, however, began to tell the members of the neighborhood that if they loved Allah and obeyed him, they would have to sign a petition. This petition beseeched the government to recognize that the church was not legal—that it consisted of converts from Islam and should be shut down. Sadly, thousands of people signed. The government came to Pastor Nassir, and they showed him this petition. He wept…wept as he read the names of his neighbors—the people he loved, whom he took care of and fed, who had loved him back. These beloved neighbors had betrayed him in the signing of this petition.
As the government official stood there with the petition, he found he could no longer continue seeing the names of people he had taken care of—to continue was too painful. He asked the official not to show him any more names.
After that, Pastor Nassir hired a lawyer to defend himself and his church against the signatures, which were over 3,000 in number. On his court date, his accusers brought the signers of the petition. Among them, Pastor Nassir found dear friends, many of whom he greeted with a warm embrace—the mutual fondness between the witnesses and their accused was evident to all. The lawyer who represented Pastor Nassir soon met the petitioners, as Pastor Nassir introduced each of them to him. Soon, the lawyer realized he was being introduced to Pastor Nassir’s accusers, and was adamant that Pastor Nassir not speak with anyone on the opposing side in the court.
The judge opened the case, and each of the witnesses, when asked to share what they had against Pastor Nassir said: “Nothing…this is the most innocent, pure, God-fearing man that exists, but the mosque’s leader told us that if we loved God, we would sign this petition, and we love God, so we signed the petition; but this man is so God-fearing…you will never find a man like him.” Over and over again, they testified to the love of God that was evident in Pastor Nassir.
Ultimately, the judge withdrew the case against him; the church could continue!
This is the beauty of the love of Christ: that we can love those who have made themselves our enemies. God redeemed this pain in Pastor Nassir’s life and, today, Pastor Naasir is able to use it as a testament to God’s glory.
*Names have been changed for security reasons.