Saturday, 22 September 2007

True truth

Sometimes you meet people and, as you are talking to them, you realise that things you knew to be true are actually true.

This has happened a couple of times in the past week as I've been blessed to have met Christian brothers from other countries at the University of Central Lancashire.

Early in the week I met a man from Iran about to start a Masters. He was expelled from school there for asking his Qur'an teacher about whether Jesus could really be just a prophet. After all, he said, no other prophet has ever made a statement such as, 'If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.' I've been reading Brother Andrew's recent book Secret Believers. But all of a sudden what I knew to be true - the reality of such persecution in the Islamic world - was rammed home by a man standing right in front of me.

Last night brought an encounter that was more harrowing still. At a Freshers' event, I met a man from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is just starting a degree in human rights. He is an asylum seeker, having had to flee his country for wanting to bring to the world's attention many of the atrocities that are going on there. I listened, fighting back the tears, as he spoke of witnessing rebel soldiers rape sixty people, then urinating and forcing their victims to drink their own urine. This, he said, was just an example of the appalling things that are commonly happening in his country. Wanting to involve the international community has led to him being tortured. He has had trauma counselling in Britain for a year, and said that only in the last couple of months has he been able to start speaking about his experiences again.

My head almost spun as my friend spoke. Again, I know that our world is broken - but sometimes I forget how broken it really is. I know that humans are depraved - but sometimes I forget the evil of which we are capable. And, as I spoke to my friend about the hope that is offered in Jesus, I know that Jesus is the only hope for the nations, but I have been reminded of its great urgency. I know that God cares about justice - but perhaps more than I ever, I can see why.

I'm grateful that God has brought these two men to Preston. Sometimes we need people with experiences very different from our own to remind of how things really are.

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