In June 2009, the Long family woke up to their worst nightmare. Their 23-year-old son, a private in the U.S. army, had been gunned down by an Islamic terrorist on American soil. They were shocked, grieved, and angry. Yet in the midst of their mourning, this family did the unthinkable.

After receiving the money left to them by their son, the Longs dedicated a portion of it to help reach Muslims for Christ. They said: “We can think of no better way to honor God than to use part of the money he left us to reach the unsaved Muslim people.”

From an earthly perspective, the Longs would have been justified in seeking revenge. Yet they chose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, loving the very people who had killed their son.

Read Matthew 5:43-48 and 10:16-20. Jesus has called all of us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As Christ faced opposition and persecution from this world, so will we, which is why Jesus warned us that He was sending us out “like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). Yet Jesus did not say, “I’m going to protect you from the wolves.” Instead, He said, “I am commissioning you to go to the wolves.”

Jesus sends us out into this hostile world knowing exactly what we are made of—He knows our weakness and vulnerability. Yet He does not send us out alone. Our Lord promises to be with us always (see Matthew 28:20). He promises that nothing can separate us from His love and that, even if we do pay the ultimate price for our faith, it is better to be with Him (see Romans 8:35; Philippians 1:23). And as He sends us to the enemies of the cross with the Good News of the Gospel, His power transforms ravenous wolves into obedient sheep—terrorists into saints.

Jesus knows that the eternal destiny of the terrorist is more important than the earthly comfort of His people. He calls all of us to love our enemies, even those who persecute us. In this worthy but risky task, we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Our response to persecution must not be cowering fear or bitter retaliation, but rather prudent proclamation—the discerning declaration of the Good News.

Prayer: Father, help me to see people as You do, remembering that I, too, was at enmity with You but by Your grace have received salvation and redemption. May those opposed to Your Gospel also receive the gift of Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“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” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Learn more through this powerful testimony, Forgiveness & Freedom: The Long Family Story: WATCH NOW

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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