Who is your enemy? Sometimes this question is hard to answer, but for many of the people here in Zamboanga, there is an abundance of enemies to love. This week I wanted to give you a brief glimpse of an exercise I included in my book, Love Your Enemy: A 30 Day Guide to Compelling Expressions of Faith. I want you to use this video as an exercise in loving your own enemies, but I also want to give a little context about the audience where I gave this talk and how they have responded.
Zamboanga in is no stranger to tension and violence. This city in the Philippines lies on the threshold between strongly Catholic areas and one of the world’s most dangerous hotbeds of Islamic militants. Militant Muslim groups in this region have strong financial ties to Al Quaeda and the Islamic state and even have familial ties to Osama Bin Laden. Christians in this area sometimes face persecution, and missionaries and businessmen have been the target of many kidnappings and executions (including beheadings). The region has been fraught with raids and massacres by militant groups. Not far away in Marawi, a group claiming allegiance to the Islamic State took over a city for several months… a situation which probably felt familiar for many Zamboangans.
In 2013 Islamic militants claimed the city of Zamboanga, raising their flag and setting off an event known as the Zamboanga siege (or crisis). The fighting that ensued displaced over 100,000 people and destroyed over 10,000 homes before the government regained control of the city. Many of the people in this city live their lives under this tension, not knowing when another crisis could begin.
Knowing this background adds to the significance of the “Love Your Enemy” message. I doubt the audience struggled to think of people they consider an enemy. But this hasn’t stopped this church from being an example of loving their enemies.
Shortly after I gave this talk the Covid 19 pandemic began, sending much of the world into lockdown. In Zamboanga supplies were limited and some people received little assistance. Some Christians in Muslim areas reported receiving no assistance at all. What did the church do? They banded together and raised support (we contributed in multiple ways) to distribute food for not only their church members, but their neighbors and their communities. They distributed aid and prayed for Muslim based believers and Muslim neighbors. They became a beacon of love and sowed the seeds of loving their neighbors. They became an example of the Gospel.
The truth is, everyone of us has enemies. I’d like to invite you to take the journey of learning how to love them. I’m sharing the first 7 days of my 30 day guide for free which you can find here. The full guide is available on Amazon here. Or simply click the buttons below.