We all remember where we were when we first heard the news of the tragic events that occurred in New York City on September 11, 2001. There are few days in mankind’s history that have impacted the future of the human race more than what happened that day.
My wife and I were serving as missionaries in Russia and were visiting fellow missionaries in Moscow when we received the news. At the time, Russia was no friend of the US because of the US inspired and NATO lead bombing of Kosovo. Since Yugoslavia was a Slavic brother to Russia, the intensity of emotions that the people of Russia held towards Americans can best be captured by a sign we saw on a street in St. Petersburg, “Have a good day. Kill an American.”
Given these strong anti-American sentiments the unexpected response of the Russian people to what happened that fateful day demonstrated true Christian values. The days following 9/11 found the area outside the US Consulate in St. Petersburg overflowing with flowers as Russians demonstrated their compassion for the loss suffered by America on 9/11.
That expression of compassion has inspired me many times in the last 10 years to demonstrate compassion in unexpected circumstances. When one of my ‘enemies’ encounters tragedy I make a conscious decision to demonstrate compassion to that ‘enemy’ even though I may feel that they don’t deserve it.
A few days after 9/11 my wife and I were scheduled to return to the US for a short trip to take care of some medical issues. Our flight from St. Petersburg to Minneapolis/St. Paul were among the first flights once the FAA allowed when airline operations resumed.
As we boarded the plane we discovered that two of the passengers seated on that flight were middle eastern looking men. The discontent of the passengers was palpable as they eyed these foreigners with obvious distrust. The middle eastern looking men had done their best to look respectable by wearing suits and in a vain attempt to mask what appeared to be their ethnicity they also donned baseball caps. It would have been comical if it weren’t so tragic to watch these men try and find acceptance in a very hostile situation.
In the end, the passengers had their way as the flight attendant eventually escorted these two men off the plane. The sad fact of the matter was, these men were not from the middle east but were instead from India but the color of their skin was the basis for what happened that day on the airplane.
Rejection of a person based on skin color, socio-economic status or any other artificial reason is contrary to Christ’s instructions to love one another.