Thursday, August 26, 2010

Continue to Love Your Enemies...

Here's 2 good examples (from the 2009 Yearbook) that demonstrates the words of today's text about loving your enemies and praying that they'll have a change of heart, rather than retaliating against them.

(Slovenia, pgs 252-254)
"When the Governing Body approved the construction of a new branch office for Slovenia, the brothers began searching for a suitable site. After investigating about 40 different properties, the brothers chose a lot near the town of Kamnik, 12 miles from the capital, at the foot of beautiful alpine peaks. Soon, zoning requirements were met, building permits were obtained, the property was purchased, contracts were signed with a construction company, and international servants were invited to work on the project. Everything seemed set to start.

When news about the project became public, however, neighbors quickly demonstrated their opposition. On the day that construction was to have begun, protesters barred access to the building site with barricades. Soon they displayed banners expressing their opposition. Six days later, at about noon, some 30 policemen arrived to protect city workers who had been assigned to remove the protesters' barricades, the protesters verbally abused the police. In the meantime, though, the project had been postponed, so neither the brothers nor anyone from the construction company was on site that day. With the project postponed, opposition began to wane, and our brothers worked toward a peaceful solution.

The construction fence had been torn down three times by protesters, but the project finally got underway a month later and continued without further hindrance. Actually, what began as an attack on Jehovah's people resulted in a blessing because the matter attracted much media attention. More than 150 news items on the building project were presented on TV and radio and in newspapers. Construction was completed after about 11 months, and in August 2005, the Bethel family moved into their new facilities.

Since then, the relationship between the brothers and their neighbors has changed completely. Many neighbors have visited the branch facilities. One former opposer later became very interested in the building project. He asked who we are and what would be done inside the building. When he toured the facilities, he was impressed by the friendly welcome he was given as well as by the cleanliness of the building. "The neighbors are asking me if I am now on your side," he told the brothers, "and I answer, 'As much as I was against Jehovah's Witnesses before, I am now for them because they are good people.'"

August 12, 2006, was the happy day on which Theodore Jaracz (formerly) of the Governing Body delivered the dedication talk to an audience of 144 from about 20 different countries. At a special meeting in Ljubljana, he spoke to an audience of 3,097 from all parts of Slovenia, as well as from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina."

(Nicaragua pgs 50-51)
"Ernesto, who had been a captain of the army's special troops, was living in a small town near the Caribbean Coast. Jairo, a special pioneer who had come from another part of the country to preach there, met Ernesto while working from house to house and offered him a home Bible study. Though this former soldier refused, Jairo persisted, and eventually his offer was accepted. In the course of their conversations, Jairo revealed that his father had been the commander of the counterrevolutionary army fighting against the government troops in a nearby area but that he had died in battle. Ernesto continued with his study and began to progress, all the while keeping a secret from his Bible teacher, which he eventually just had to reveal. With profound sadness, he explained to Jairo that he had been in command of the platoon that had captured Jairo's father alive and that he had personally been responsible for the father's death. Jairo, of course, was shocked, but he knew it to be true because the frightful details that Ernesto recounted coincided with what he had previously been told by his father's fellow soldiers. Ernesto thought that their friendship would end right there. But rather than harbor hatred for his student, Jairo continued studying with him. Ernesto progressed and got baptized, along with his wife. He and Jairo remain friends to this day."

(Wasn't that such an unusual coincidence?...that experience is perfect for demonstrating how it's possible to love your enemies, not just when they are some large abstract group or race of people, but even in situations that are far more personal and hit very close to home)