Open Letter: Another Story of God Working on Our Hearts

Editor’s note: Those of us in Christians United by Jahar have been very encouraged as we have seen how God has worked in at times eerily similar ways in first putting Jahar on our hearts. We have also been encouraged as we continue to have random people contact us thinking that they were all alone in praying for Jahar’s salvation. Here is yet another story of one girl’s journey of praying for Jahar.

On April 15th, I, like the rest of the country, woke up to heartbreak.

When I first saw the headlines about the Boston Marathon, I was in disbelief. How a human being had the capacity to inflict that kind of pain and terror became unfathomable to me.

I spent the next few days in anger. People who know me personally know that I do not enjoy being angry or resentful. I remember the night of the shootout in Watertown- I was on twitter and saw trending topics about some of the things that were happening, and then the news outlets got a hold of it. I spent that entire night watching live coverage. The first thing I’d heard was that MIT Officer Sean Collier had been murdered. Ironically, I was waiting for my dad to come home from his job as a police officer. The first thing I thought of was this man’s family. I hugged my dad hard when he walked in the door 20 minutes after midnight, his normal arrival time which I do not take for granted.

As the night wore on I followed the chaotic events in Massachusetts, nearly 1,000 miles away from my home. I was awake all night. I remember the moment I first saw the photos released by the FBI of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and the horrible anger that welled up inside of me. It had been an emotional week for all of America, and to tie it to these names and faces gave me something to concentrate my anger on. I had no idea that in coming days, this anger would turn into burden and that God would use these horrible events to work in my heart in ways I weren’t aware were possible.

I struggled to stay awake into the late morning hours on April 19th. I just wanted to know that Dzhokhar had been captured. I fell asleep with my TV still on, and didn’t wake up until evening, to find that he was surrounded in a boat outside somebody’s residence. I watched with my parents as they finally apprehended him and rushed him away in an ambulance to Beth Israel Deaconess- the very hospital that was caring for many of his victims.

Over the next few days, I felt odd, not like myself. I was glued to the news most days. I felt something stirring in my heart. Laying in the dark in my room in the middle of the night days after Dzhokhar’s arrest, I reached the realization that what I was feeling was no longer anger. It was burden. My heart felt incredibly heavy. In fact, it was completely shattered. The thoughts running through my head were of a man not terribly older than I, who had forfeited everything he had for a lie, and of another man who’s last memories were of hatred and bullets and blood and being run over, likely by his own accord. Did he think he was being a martyr for the cause?

That night, for the first time I can truly remember, I felt a real burden for humanity. My heart trembled thinking about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a person, and as a symbol of a world that quivers in pain and senselessness and deception, that doesn’t realize it’s own desperate need for a Savior.

Additionally, it sparked within me questions I’d never challenged myself to ask. Throughout the Bible, Jesus tells us to love our enemies; to forgive. As a self professing Christian, a general standard I’ve been taught to hold myself up to is to walk like Christ- to love like Jesus does. But how many times do we actually fulfill that tremendous responsibility? Jesus loves those who make themselves a public object of anger and hatred. Would Dzhokhar be an exception? Absolutely not. And I can say with confidence that there is no shame in being burdened for any soul.

How do we forgive people who do unthinkable things? How do we love people the way Jesus commands us to when the world we’re living in tries to tell us there is nothing to love?

Though I’ve never set off an explosive on anything that breathes or committed a physical act of terrorism, it was my sin that drove the nails through Jesus’ hands and feet every bit as much as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s did. I’ve set off bombs of hatred in my heart and I’ve maimed people with my thoughts, intents, words, and actions. Though those aren’t federal crimes, in the face of our Creator I am just as accountable for those transgressions as Dzhokhar is for his.

3 months before the Boston Marathon, I read a book that without a doubt impacted me more than any other book aside from the Bible; “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom. She survived the holocaust, but not without suffering tremendous emotional and physical torment and losing her sister and father in the process. What gripped me the most was how she brought herself to forgive her abusers after it was all over. Her words sum up forgiveness perfectly:

“I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.”

I believe that if applied to every situation, this principle would change the world. This is a love that is greater than life itself. I now lament over every night I’ve gone to sleep unbothered by the destruction of souls happening in our own homeland as well as internationally. I now wonder how many people just like Dzhokhar I have looked at without truly seeing, or how many times I’ve simply been too self-centered or reserved to care for somebody’s soul or the pain in their heart. It hurts me to consider how many people could be carrying this lack of compassion and concern to their graves and beyond. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the weight of this newly felt conviction. I am now constantly aware of the people around me. My heart is still shattered to this day. It’s safe to say that I will never be the same.

I can’t express the joy I was overcome with by discovering that there are people who are committed to carrying Dzhokhar’s cross and believe that his soul has worth. Every day my prayer is that he would come to salvation as well as his family, that redemption and revival would rise up out of the ashes of this senseless situation; and that those whose lives came under attack by such terrorism will find peace, closure, and healing. Lord, comfort them and draw them near.

If I could tell Dzhokhar Tsarnaev one thing, it would be that when there is no just way for redemption on earth, there is always redemption with Jesus Christ.

We are at war, but not even the gates of hell can stand against compassion.

-Sarah A.B.

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10 Responses to Open Letter: Another Story of God Working on Our Hearts

  1. pikakittymeow says:

    So encouraging to read! You ARE NOT ALONE! 🙂 We are all praying alongside you!

  2. Especially as an American, I just don’t understand how we are supposed to FORGIVE the people who assume someone is guilty just because they saw something on TV. It’s really hard and trying on the soul. To think, there are people who would just throw our Constitution to the wind, based on lies. Or in any case really having no idea, except blindly trusting in the TV instead of God! For shame! For shame! For shame! Let this teen boy be considered innocent until proven guilty for God sakes. All I know is that the FBI and the media have been LYING THEIR HEADS OFF like they were that whore that got John the Baptist to lose his head. Please. Before you assume the media is telling the truth that someone is guilty of something. Seriously. Look into it. Next week, it could be you. They’ll be saying YOU are a weirdo fundie Christian that blew up a synagogue.

    • Bri says:

      Most of the people who contribute to this blog have looked into the case, and some even side toward his innocence. Personally at one point I actually leaned toward his innocence; now, however, I lean toward his guilt. Don’t assume that we haven’t looked into it.

      But regardless, our focus is not on his guilt or lack thereof. If Jahar did not do anything he’s accused of, he has still sinned in other ways and thus still stands in need of a Savior. That’s what Christians United for Jahar is about, leading Jahar to Christ no matter what.

  3. Pingback: Open Letter: Another Story of God Working on Our Hearts | Kids Belief

  4. PureLife says:

    I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one praying for Dzhokhar’s salvation. The Spirit of the Lord is really moving and mobilizing people all over. I was in classes on campus when they first started releasing information about the suspects, and how they where in a gun battle with police, so I missed it, but my mom saw it and later told me…”It’s a shame that these boys felt so disenfranchised that they’d do something so terrible, especially the younger one who got sucked in to his brother’s craziness. He’s just a baby, and had so much going for him before all this.” And my response to her was a hard-hearted one…”Baby or not, he’s still gotta fry for what he did”. I remember when the headline was announced during the footage of the manhunt that they found him in a pool of blood in the boat, and that he’d likely bleed out before they could get to to him, and my reaction to pray for him almost startled me. At first I felt guilty about it, but it just came over me. I distinctly remember praying “Lord Jesus, if there is any chance that this boy’s heart is not so hardened that he could repent, pray the sinners prayer, receive You into his heart and be saved, please let him be captured alive and salvaged, so that You can restore him.” God answered part of my prayer that night and Dzhokhar is still alive, so I take that to mean that God will take care of the rest of my prayer in due time and begin working in Dzhokhar. I had the sudden urge, as if God inserted a thought into my head, to start sending Dzhokhar a Bible and other materials once he was checked into prison. At this point, I’m undecided about his guilt or innocence…by now I know not to take everything from the government and from the media at face value, but I know there’s still the possibility that he was involved. At any rate, I just feel in my spirit that Dzhokhar is going to have a POWERFUL testimony about salvation through Yeshua (Jesus), regardless of if he spends life in prison, receives the death penalty, or proves his possible innocence. This is why the ENEMY, satan, has been trying to take him out of the picture and silence him, whether it was by leading him astray into radical Islam & terrorism, or getting him set up and shot up by authorities, along with his excessive use of marijuana. Satan only attacks what he perceives to be a threat.

    • pikakittymeow says:

      Praise God! You are SO not alone in praying for Dzhokhar! There are stories all over this blog of how God placed him on peoples hearts! I find your story so encouraging, God is definitely up to something amazing!

    • Bri says:

      You’re by far not the only one praying for Jahar’s salvation 🙂 I find it an answer to prayer that you stumbled across us because a few of us have been praying the past few days that anyone who feels alone in praying for Jahar would find us, and then I woke up to your comment in the dashboard. I’m very encouraged to hear of your story of coming to pray for Jahar because it bears so many similiarities to the stories I’ve already heard. I’m fully convinced that God is at work, and He’s raising up an army of prayer warriors for Jahar to help accomplish His purpose for Jahar.

      I love that prayer that you said, and I can’t wait to see the rest of it answered. I’m so happy that part of it was. I’m certain that Jahar is only alive now by the grace of God. There’s no way he should’ve survived all that gunfire, loss of blood, the fall from the boat, etc.

      I feel exactly as you do: Jahar is gonna be saved and have an extremely powerful testimony that’ll send shockwaves throughout the rest of his family and the nation/world.

      We’ve been praying a lot this past week against the power of the enemy in Jahar’s life and against any influence that demonic forces might have on him. You’re definitely right to say that Jahar is a potential threat. I’d give anything to see Jahar run to Christ for salvation and leave Satan defeated in the dust.

  5. Pingback: Don’t Shrink Back | Christians United For Jahar

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