Kindness is a form of concern in action toward all types of people in all sorts of circumstances. Like patience, kindness can be extended to those who have harmed us, and in this way it can be an agent of peace in times of conflict. Many Christians around the world attend church in an area where there is armed conflict or persecution. Even if you do not live in an area like this, it is common to experience conflict in your place of work or school. Nor are Christian organizations exempt from this. In fact, the pain of relational conflict can be worse in a church or a Christian organization because we tend to expect more from our fellow Christians and are disappointed when such conflicts develop. Showing kindness to those with whom we are in conflict can be one of the greatest agents of healing ….

I have a [Youth for Christ] colleague [in Sri Lanka] named Jeyaraj, who was arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist and sent to a prison for people convicted or suspected of involvement in terrorism. He was kept there for fifteen months without any charges being made against him. During the time of the war in our country, this was an all-too-common occurrence. This particular incident was his fourteenth arrest! After an initial few days of hurt, however, Jeyaraj got together with another Christian there and began an amazing ministry in the prison, which resulted in many people coming to Christ.

Jeyaraj is a minority Tamil, and since he had been unjustly arrested and kept in prison by the Sinhala establishment, it would not have surprised anyone if he harbored some deep resentment against the Sinhalese people. Sometime after his release from prison, Jeyaraj needed to spend some time in the hospital because of various internal injuries related to the abuse he had endured during his numerous arrests. Another colleague called me to let me know that there was a welfare officer from the prison who was spending a lot of time with Jeyaraj, so much so that he was not able to have time alone with his wife.

When I visited Jeyaraj in the hospital … I asked [him] why this officer was spending so much time with him. He let me know that they had, in fact, become good friends in prison. At various times when the officer was depressed or discouraged, Jeyaraj had offered comfort and counsel to him. After hearing that Jeyaraj was in the hospital, the officer had taken leave and made the three-hour journey to spend time with him. What made this all the more amazing was that the officer was Sinhalese. A young man, held unjustly in prison, was now ministering God's kindness to the very prison official he should have hated!

That is evidence of radical love in action.

Taken from Reclaiming Love by Ajith Fernando. Copyright ©2012 by Ajith Fernando. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World
Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World
192 pp., 5.97
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