Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
They came as she was speaking.
Public Security Bureau officials swooped in as Sarah Yang, a female house-church leader, finished expounding her text to her congregation. She was whisked out into the bitter cold. It was December 1998 in northeast China. She shivered in the freezing cell, waiting for her interrogator to come in.
Soon he swaggered in. Wu Pei Fu was the head of the Public Security Bureau in the area. For some reason he took an instant dislike to Sarah Yang, and instead of using more subtle psychological techniques, he began to beat and kick her. "Tell me who the other leaders are? Who supplies your Bibles?" He screamed questions, and when she refused to answer, he would rain blows upon her, slapping her flesh. The police station echoed the sound of his hands stinging her body.
But Christians were praying. Wu was in for a shock. He interrogated Sarah Yang for only twenty-four hours, but the hours were full of nasty surprises. First, he heard his mother was in the hospital from a bad car accident. Next, news came that his son was very sick with a stomach ailment. Finally, when he went home he had a fierce argument with his wife, who threatened to leave him.
In the morning he took his frustration out on Sarah Yang, beating her repeatedly and then sending word to her congregation: "If you don't pay 20,000 RMB for her release. I will send her to a labor camp for three years." The sum was exorbitant (nearly $2,500). The congregation could not afford to pay, since in the area the average yearly salary was less than half that amount. But they prayed, and a contact in another city agreed to raise the money. Sarah Yang was released.
Hearing that her interrogator's mother was ill, Sarah Yang went straight to the hospital to see her. She located the mother, who was lying on the bed with her other son in attendance, and began witnessing to her. She preached the Gospel to her and sent word to the other Christians. They all came and prayed at the bedside. In a matter of hours, the mother and her other son both trusted Christ. The Christians also prayed for Wu's wife and son. The son was healed.
Wu was amazed at the boldness and the effectiveness of the Christians, and when his mother started attending the house church of Sarah Yang, whom he abused so badly, he made no objection. He sent word saying, "I will not disturb your church. You are good people."
Are you praying for the person that hates you?
Dear Lord, help us be faithful to You even when persecuted. Give us hearts that will go to our enemies and share Your love with them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.