A new manifesto

Boat note

I imagine if the Apostle Paul had kept a journal prior to meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road, he would’ve written something like this, boasting of his persecution and essentially murder of Christians:

I bear witness that this is the truth: Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. When I go from town to town rounding up Christians to be killed, I take pleasure knowing that I am doing God’s will by removing their idolatry and blasphemy from the land. Those who claim that a mere man is God and can forgive their sins deserve to die. I approve of their executions. The message is simple: Continue to believe in these lies, and I’ll snuff out your life. Repent, or I’ll never stop. All for the glory of God.

If we had a copy of that journal entry today, it would serve as a powerful reminder of the darkness that God brought Paul out of. It would be a visible testament to who Paul was before he was completely transformed by the power of the Gospel.

I look at the photo of Jahar’s boat note, and that’s what I see. I see a visible testament to the incredible darkness that fills Jahar’s heart. Through it, I see who he is, a completely lost and evil young man with so much blood on his hands who completely deserves God’s wrath. But can’t that become who he was?

After all, that transformation happened for Paul. In 1 Timothy 1:12-16 he writes:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

The Greek here for “insolent opponent” can also be translated “violent aggressor.” This violent opponent of God became a devoted follower of His, marked by the love and peace of Christ. He became a living testimony to the grace and mercy of God in Christ Jesus, who saved him, the “foremost” of sinners. Or as my study Bible notes put it, “Paul was living proof that God could save any sinner, no matter how great a one he might be.”

Do we truly believe that? Do we believe that despite all the evil Jahar, perhaps rightfully named among the worst of sinners, has done, God can still save him?

I do. I firmly believe that one day we will hear that Jahar became a Christian. And on that glorious day, we will look back on the boat note and be able to say with praise overflowing from our hearts, “That’s a vivid picture of who he was, but now he is a new creation in Christ.”

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Oh God, may it be true one day that Jahar was a murderer but that he was washed white as snow by the precious blood of the Lamb. Write him a new manifesto, one that instead of proclaiming Islam and hatred, proclaims Jesus and His amazing love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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18 Responses to A new manifesto

  1. Aunny-Aunny says:

    Amen and Amen!

  2. brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

    I do too. I believe right alongside you sister. When I first saw that boat note, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at it. Before it was released, I could convince myself that it wasn’t real…..that it didn’t exist. Looking at it now makes me realize what we’re up against. But our God is stronger! The part of Paul’s story that really hits home with me is Ananaias’s reaction when God calls him to go and lay hands on Paul.

    “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananaias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:13-15)

    When people hear what God has laid on our hearts, we get pretty much the same reaction – and an understandable one at that. But God often chooses the worst of sinners to be His instruments. The day that Jahar comes to Christ……the glory that that will bring to God’s name is unimaginable. I can’t wait to be there to witness that, and to know that my desperate prayers were even a tiny part of that miraculous heart change.

    • Bri says:

      Those who had been saved by grace didn’t realize its full power. It is the same problem we have today. We think God’s grace only works up to a point. Once you’ve crossed a certain threshold of bad, you’re completely done for, and you might as well start preparing for hell. Wrong! God transformed Paul; He can transform Jahar too. And like Paul, Jahar can be a chosen instrument of God to bring the Gospel to those who need to hear it.

  3. Bri says:

    My prayer times for Jahar since the boat note was released yesterday have all been filled with smiles, joy, and peace. God has definitely used it to encourage me, when it could’ve very well intimidated me and caused me to despair because it shows just what we’re up against. I don’t feel intimidated at all. I rejoice knowing that what Jahar proclaimed in the boat note will one day stand in stark contrast to the amazing testimony of God’s grace he will proclaim.

    • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

      My prayer times have been the exact same way. So looking forward to all-night prayer in person with you on Thursday…..can’t wait to feel that joy and peace together with my sister. ❤

  4. Perhaps it’s kind of fitting that the anniversary of these terrible days falls during Holy Week – a reminder that death doesn’t win after all. Resurrection can happen, he can be made anew…like we are all meant to be.

    • Bri says:

      I hadn’t even thought of that. Another CU4J person and I were talking about how awesome it would be for Jahar to come to Christ on Easter, but I didn’t even think about the sort of fitting symbolism you mentioned. Love it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Bri says:

      Reminds me of what I was planning on writing to a Christian I write on death row: “Because He lives, we will live.” That can be true of Jahar too if he would only come to Christ.

  5. Bri says:

    I’m bothered by the timing too. Whoever released this to ABC News ahead of the trial should be ashamed of themselves. But whatever, even if he doesn’t get a fair trial, God is still in control. He knows what Jahar needs. Maybe Jahar needs the death penalty to open his eyes. If that’s the case, so be it. I trust that everything is going to work out, even if what happens isn’t what we desire or expect. The boat note is no reason to fear. In fact, like I’ve said, God has actually used it to encourage me.

  6. Ada says:

    Sister, if that happens…I’d probably fly off the roof! I would be praising praising praising. Wow what a thought!
    I can testify being brought from darkness. I did not worship allah, but I pretended to be a Christian for 7 years! I knew I wasn’t saved…I was so guilty. I hated Christians (eve though I was raised to be one)…thought they were better than me and avoided me (I avoided THEM actually). I did not want to give up my life…but I didn’t want to go to Hell either. I thought that if I looked up at the stars when I prayed the salvation prayer, I thought that I might actually mean what I asked. For seven years I did this. I was praised for everything…but I WAS SO WICKED AND DARK inside that nobody knows but me and GOD. Literally, thank GOD!
    I don’t want anybody hurting like I have, for any reason. Yes, there are things that must be done…Lord Willing. No matter what happens or has happened, I pray for the Tsarnaevs and the terrorist victims.
    Again, this blog is a comfort to me!
    In Christ,
    Ada

    • Ada says:

      Excuse me, did I mean muhammed? Not sure…

      • Bri says:

        Nope, you were good with saying Allah there. Muslims worship Allah but see Muhammad as the greatest prophet. So they revere him and look to him as an example, but they don’t worship him.

    • Bri says:

      Praise God for all He’s done in your life. I was always the “good kid” before truly coming to faith in Christ, but looking back, I had plenty of darkness inside me too. But He’s brought me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. And I truly believe He can do that to anyone. I write an inmate on Ohio’s death row who is now a new creation in Christ, and in his first letter to me, the thing that stuck out to me was where he talked about how God brought him out of the dark places in his life and into His marvelous light. What a powerful testimony he has. And what a powerful testimony Jahar can have.

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        Amen! It’s funny how Operation Life came out of CU4J….but in turn….seeing so many of our prayers answered for our inmates…….seeing the incredible transformation that so many of them have undergone……the letters I get from them…….all give me SO MUCH HOPE for Jahar. Cool how it kind of cycled back. 🙂

      • Bri says:

        If God can rescue one person out of such incredible darkness, He can rescue Jahar too. His story can become like Ronald’s (the inmate I write) and Jeffrey’s (an inmate who was executed in March but was a completely new creation in Christ who I’m proud to call my brother).

      • Ada says:

        God’s Power is amazing, isn’t it? I look forward to when Jahar will be telling his Story!

      • Bri says:

        One day in heaven I want to personally hear him give his testimony.

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