CHOOSING NOT TO HATE
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
~ Romans 5:5 (NIV)
Rami Ayyad was assassinated a few years ago on October 7th for his work as the head of the Bible Society in the Gaza Strip. His murder left his wife, Pauline, burdened with three young children and a heart full of hatred for his killers.
While Rami was locking up the bookstore owned by the Palestinian Bible Society in Gaza, a vehicle pulled alongside him, and several men forced him in the back seat. Rami, remaining calm and trusting in the Lord, was allowed to call his wife. “I’m going with some young men somewhere, but I’ll be home soon,” he tried to reassure her. That was the last time Pauline would hear her husband’s voice.
Hours later, his body was found. He had been brutally tortured and shot twice, a bullet in the chest, and one in the head. A spokesman for the Palestinian Bible Society said, “He’s a martyr for Christ.” Pauline recalls, “I was so broken after the death of my husband, and I hated the people who did it.”
There has been no progress in the hunt for Rami’s killers. A local Christian commented, “Many of the Muslims believe that Rami was evangelizing people so it was OK to kill him.”
In such an environment of hatred, Pauline’s resentment festered. However, the Holy Spirit in His gentle but insistent way kept whispering to her until she could carry the hatred no further. “It was then,” she recalls, “that the Lord poured over me forgiveness for those who killed Rami and those who I used to blame.” Her heart was set free and she heard the Lord say, “It’s not everybody who gets to be called a martyr’s wife.” Deep in thought, she reflected, “That’s a great honor.”
Brother King from International Christian Concern (ICC) writes, “Pauline’s experience reflects that of the persecuted church in general. Abused, spat upon, beaten, tortured, raped, and killed, these believers suffer as Jesus did. Sometimes they respond in very human ways, but when they listen to and follow the Holy Spirit, a great power comes into them and they possess what they could not have imagined previously – peace, love for their enemies, and forgiveness for those who delivered only pure evil to their lives…This is the gift of the persecuted church. In the furnace of affliction, the Spirit of God is set ablaze in their hearts. In turn, their hearts become a beacon to all they come in contact with.”
RESPONSE: Today I will thank God for the gift of His Holy Spirit. I will listen to Him and follow Him.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the example of Pauline. Strengthen her as she raises her children.