“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
– Matthew 5:43-45
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12
India might be the most fractured nation on earth. With people separated by caste, language, and religion, people are naturally divided. In fact, India is home to 2,153 people groups (Joshua Project, 2015)! This separation that people in India experience makes misunderstanding and disagreement common. So forgiveness, in India, is not the norm.
However, forgiveness is not an option for a disciple of Jesus. That is, it’s not “optional” but “required.” This is not easy, and perhaps is even harder in India than it is in the West. Whatever culture we come from, we can learn to forgive because God first forgave us. He is a God of second chances, demonstrated time and time again, not only in biblical stories but here and now.
One such example is a man in India named Yanchit, whose family followed Jesus for a while, but sadly, returned to idol worship when relatives and neighbors cut them off for their faith. Yanchit developed a hatred for Christians and used abusive language to argue with people who preached the Gospel.
Then, one year during the Christmas season, a Mission India Church Planter named Liya was out sharing the Gospel with her husband. Yanchit ran to them and scolded them, but Liya and her husband waited patiently for his anger to subside. They shared the love of God with him—and this time, it stuck. Days later, Yanchit couldn’t stop thinking about something they told him: “None of your gods died for you but Jesus Christ died for you.”
Four months went by before he returned to Liya and her husband and said, “I left all my gods. I want to know why Jesus died for me.” Then, Yanchit received Jesus as his Savior! He is now actively living out his faith, but has left his parents’ house, choosing his faith over his family as they still oppose Christianity. Yanchit now prays for the people who persecute Christians, as he once did, and Church Planter Liya continues to visit and minister to his family.
God never gave up on bringing Yanchit back into the family of believers, even when he angrily went after Christians. God is always eager to give us a second chance, and rejoices when we forgive others, giving them a second chance, too.
Do you willingly give others second chances as God did for Yanchit? Do you seek to make things right with people who have wronged you? Do you live out The Lord’s Prayer, which says, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12)?
Father, I confess that I have sinned and I ask for your forgiveness. Please convict me if there is anyone I, in turn, need to forgive. I also ask that you would work in those who persecute Indian Christians. Please transform their hearts and lead them to you. I pray that you would give persecuted Indian believers the miraculous power to forgive those who persecute them.
– Todd VanEk, President & CEO of Mission India