Thursday, March 06, 2008

Standing Up and Being Counted

During the cold dark snowy days of January the Ringwraiths descended on Anfalas. Ok, that is a little dramatic but the truth is the Ismaili secret police incite about that much fear. Out in Ithilien where the majority of the population is Ismaili they are notorious. If a local goes by a foreigner's home to have any kind of discussion there is a good chance that a member of the secret police will be waiting on their doorstep when they get home. If they don't like the answers to their questions then a person could lose his or her job or be threatened in a variety of ways. Most people live in fear these guys.

The village of Anfalas is made up of Ismailis who moved out of Ithilien back in 2001. Since their relocation to a desert wasteland just a few kilometers from Mordor in Southern Gondor they have been abandoned by the Agha Khan and have not seen the secret police. As I began with, they showed up unexpectedly in January. They called a meeting of the whole village and everyone nervously gathered outside the school, some 300 villagers. Kili and Fili and their wives and children did not go. They were baptized just two years ago and have been faithful followers of Jesus ever since. The mayor came to their door and demanded that they come to the meeting so they agreed and came and stood at the back of the crowd.

The head of the secret police stood up and addressed the crowd. After just one or two pleasantries he looked back to Kili and Fili and asked them if they had in fact become followers of Jesus as they had heard. Kili replied that yes, they were followers of Jesus. Then he asked, 'Why?' Fili replied that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life and that because Jesus was in fact God's son that they had to follow Him. The Ringwraith turned to the Khalifa (Ismaili Mullah) and began yelling at him. He accused the Khalifa of being incompetent and lax in his duty to his people since he allowed this to happen. Fili stepped forward and stopped him. He said, 'Look, the Khalifa is not God. He does not control us, we have made our own decision. Say what you want to the rest of these villagers but as for me, Kili, our wives, and these our children do not count us as being under your authority.' Then the meeting was over. The Ringwraiths drove away leaving a scared and confused group of villagers. The mayor came up to Kili and Fili in front of a lingering group of villagers and exclaimed, "Are you drunk!!?? You don't talk to the secret police like that! Why are you forcing your beliefs on us like that? What are you trying to do?!" Fili, calmly and carefully rebuked him and said, "Look, we are not drunk as you well know. We did not want to come to the meeting but you made us come. We did not force our beliefs on anyone but they asked us directly what we believed." When he finished the surrounding villagers applauded.

So many live in fear here. So many are afraid for anyone to find out that they are followers of Jesus. This is why it is so encouraging when we hear of men like Kili and Fili who stand up like Daniel's friends and declare the truth in the face of opposition and danger. The results are evident. Kili and Fili and their families meet together every night after work to read the Word and pray together. About 15 other villagers join them regularly. Pray that many of these will also stand up and be counted.


Deborah said...

Upward thoughts that the brave testimony of these 2 men will bear fruit in coming days!

Strider said...

Thanks Deborah, If I am not mistaken I have not seen you here before- Welcome!

Tim Patterson said...

Yeah! Sounded like something right out of the book of Acts!