“That’s why Kurds can never trust Arabs or be their friends,” Sidar* declared. Christar worker Amber listened as her Kurdish friend Sue and Sue’s mom, Sidar, discussed the historical conflict between Arabs and Kurds. As she did, God showed her an opportunity.
“You know, Jesus talked about enemies in the Bible,” Amber shared. “He said to love them.”
Shock washed over Sue’s and Sidar’s faces, their horror obvious. “Jesus said to love our enemies?” Sidar questioned. “Why would he say that?!”
“Jesus said anyone can love their neighbors and their friends who are like them,” Amber responded. “But only people whose hearts have been changed by God can love their enemies, who do bad things and are different from them.”
“Oh, I understand what she’s saying,” Sue confidently told her mom. “She’s saying that if you are kind to your enemies, they will change their hearts and then you can become friends.” Sue went on to explain that she had befriended a few Arab girls at college because they were kind to her and she could see that they didn’t hate Kurds.
In light of the long history of animosity between Arabs and Kurds, Sue’s insight was significant. But she’d missed the truly life-changing truth Amber was seeking to communicate.
Amber persisted. “That’s not what I’m saying,” she asserted. “Jesus said to love your enemies. Maybe they will change; maybe they won’t. But it’s not my job to change them. My job is to obey Jesus and love them anyway.”
By God’s grace, Sidar understood. “I knew that wasn’t what she was saying!” Sidar exclaimed. “She’s saying to love your enemies even if they don’t change to become good people! That would be very hard to do. Maybe impossible.”
“It is impossible,” Amber agreed, “unless God changes your heart. Only God can help you to love your enemy.”
In a culture where few have heard the gospel, the idea of loving an enemy is audacious. To suggest that such a thing is not only possible but required flies in the face of human nature and cultural norms. “I’ve been hearing Jesus’ teachings my whole life, so I forget sometimes how radical they are,” Amber explains. “Sue and her mom’s reaction reminded me just how different Jesus calls us to be. It also reminded me that most people in my city don’t know what Jesus said. They won’t know unless someone like me tells them.”
How can I get involved?
- Pray that Sue, Sidar and others like them will remember what they’ve heard from Christar workers about loving their enemies and the power of Christ’s love.
- Ask God to change the hearts of many as they hear the radical message of the gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up more workers to share the message of Christ in Kurdish and Arab communities.