The Face of My Enemy
The Brilliance, a liturgical soft rock band I follow, recently published some cutting edge lyrics. Their song begins, "When I look into the face of my enemy I see my brother." How do you see the face of your enemy?
During a recent trip in Mindanao, Philippines, we traveled to a rebel army village on the side of a steep, forested mountain. Military lookouts were hidden in the leafy canopy above us. Over a lunch of mountain rice and grilled chicken, I sat on the porch with the head maoist rebel commander in the region. We looked out over the thatched roofs on nearby stilted cottages and gazed upon the the patches of lush, green rice fields below.
The commander was a handsome woman, dressed in plain clothing suited to the area. She had a kind face – perhaps the face of a mother – but I could also see the deep creases marking years of determination and struggle. I made a mental note not to let her kindness dull my wits. Her name is C0mm@nder_V – for V!ct0ry. As a revolutionary leader, she is often on the run and has many names in many places. She may relate to Jesus’ words better than many of us, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
“What do you think of prayer, C0mm@nder_V?”
I glanced at her over a bite of chicken. She tilted her head back and looked hard at the ceiling, her lips a thin line. “I haven’t prayed in 30 years.”
“Can I have your permission to get some churches to pray for you?” I queried.
She looked at me with flat eyes, "The church will not pray for me, they don't like our New_Pe0p|e’s_@rmy."
A pain lanced through my heart at her words. It made me wonder why the church had a reputation like this. "I think I could get 10 or so churches to pray for you. Can I have your permission? I would like to do this,” I persisted.
C0mm@nder_V offered a slight shrug and smiled. "It would take a miracle for the church to pray for me...but okay." I left feeling deeply convicted to make sure she knows we love her.
I am accepting the challenge. She is a sister in need of the love of Jesus. During our conversation, it became clear to me that C0mm@nder V deeply loves her two teenage sons who feel estranged from her after so many years of serving the New. Pe0p|e’s_@rmy. Below, we've developed some simple prayers for C0mm@nder_V for those who would like to join us in praying for her.
The next day, Doc Fritz and I spoke to a group of rural church leaders in Mindanao about the importance of touching the lives of children in armed conflict and investing in C0mm@nder_V. Everyone in the room raised their hand committing to pray for her.
A few days later, one of our local leaders shared the story at his ministerial association near the rebel region. The leaders responded with shock. One stated, ”You want us to pray for the rebel leaders? This is the first time we’ve heard that we should pray for them.” Another commented, “The church is praying for the Muslim people in our area but we avoid these communist rebels! They tax us and make our lives miserable.” A third queried, “So you are saying God is calling us, His church, to be peace advocates in our own city for those trouble making rebels?" Despite the initial concern, in less than a week we mobilized over 500 Philippine churches to pray specifically for C0mm@nder_V and the maoist rebel group!
We want to be a clear expression of the Father’s heart to the New.Pe0p|e’s_@rmy. Please join us and the local Philippine churches in praying these short, targeted prayers.
Pray for the New_Pe0p|e’s_@rmy Today
Send new mercy to C0mm@nder_V today and give her hope for Mindanao. May your never-ending mercy give her new strength every day.
Let your heart for justice give C0mm@nder_V a heart of understanding for the children of the NPA. May her own two sons become champions of love and may their own love for their mother grow as a testimony of Jesus in the nation.
Pray for the New_Pe0p|e’s_@rmy Today - Short version anyone can pray every day.
Send your never-ending mercy to C0mm@nder_V today. Raise up her own sons as a testament of your love for her and for the nation.
In 2015, we are launching a series of projects in this region to address the conflict, cover these people in love and prayer, and minister to the children who often end up as soldiers in these conflicts. We are grateful for all of you who are joined to us in prayer, giving and action–we are a church that sees a holy opportunity when they look into "the face of their enemy.”
*Please excuse our strange punctuation. This helps maintain security with sensitive names and places.