“Lord save us!”
Michael* instinctively covered his head with his arms to deflect the blows to his neck and head. Only a few feet away, his teacher, Fahim*—a frail man in his late 50s—crumpled unconscious under the assailants’ blows. Michael felt helpless as the choking grip around his neck shifted, shoving his head toward the ground.
The two evangelists had been teaching a group at a small house church in Michael’s village in South Asia, when Fahim noticed they were being followed by a suspicious group of five men. Uneasy, he quietly prompted Michael to wrap things up, and the two of them cautiously started home.
But as soon as they exited the village, the group who had followed them ambushed them on the trail. They attacked Michael first, the stronger of the two evangelists. Once he was presumably weakened, they started in on Fahim, the true perpetrator in their eyes.
And as Michael watched his teacher suffer under the same painful beatings he had just endured, he desperately wished they would leave Fahim alone and only beat him. “What would I tell his family if he doesn’t return home today?” he thought.
Suddenly, a white-haired man appeared on the path, running toward their assailants. The five thugs spun around at the sound of his shouting.
“Stop this commotion!”
The white-haired man fixed his eyes on Michael and asked, “What did you do?”
“I was visiting my friends here in this village and teaching from the Holy Scriptures, wisdom for the path of life.”
Gradually, Fahim was able to see again. “We were teaching about the love and grace of God,” he added.
Turning back to the assailants, the white-haired man began to scold them, disgust in his voice.
“What’s wrong with you! These men are doing a good thing.
“Few people are taking the time to show care for others by visiting in their homes, much less helping them on the path of life! And how do you find it evil if someone shares about the love and grace of God?
“There are real bad things happening all around—theft, rape, extortion, murder. If you really are concerned to police a community meet those evils with force. But beating someone for visiting in a friend’s house to help them in their lives and come to know about the love and grace of God? These are things that should be encouraged in our society! Now get out of here, before you are arrested for the wrong you are doing!”
Shaken, the five men hastily took off down the path, disappearing into the night.
Michael and Fahim thanked the man as he helped them to their feet. Neither had ever seen the man before, prompting Fahim to inquire of him if he lived in the village.
“I am not from anywhere around here,” was all the man said. Then he urged them to go quickly in a different direction, before the thugs changed their minds and returned, or tried to ambush them again further down the path.
In a debrief meeting later that evening, Michael and Fahim pondered over the mysterious appearance of the white-haired man. Their assailants, while Michael had never seen them before either, they figured were thugs from an outside village, hired by people who wanted to frighten Michael and his fellow evangelists into abandoning their work in the village.
But both Michael and Fahim found it unusual that an outsider—this unknown deliverer whom no one had ever seen before—would take such a risk in an area that was not his own. They wondered also how a single stranger could have such influence and confidence when he had been so clearly outnumbered by five “strong men”.
They remain very thankful for their deliverer and will relish this mystery for years to come.
*Names changed for security
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