Mindless violence against a Christian (Walter Masih): reflections after the “Jaipur incident”

The event

Christian preacher attacked in Jaipur | Five arrested for attacking Jaipur pastor

(usually there is a difference in opinion about how to spell the name Masih or Massey but Massey is the anglicized version of Masih…. from the Hebrew “messiah” or the Greek “christos”)

The opinion

So people have probably read or heard about the news report that a certain Massey (Masih) was attacked by the VHP, beaten badly, all with full MEDIA COVERAGE of the event!

Well, I know there will be many Indians (some of them nationalist Hindus) who will say that he deserved it. They’ll say that Christians have been trying to forcefully convert people and so this is the result of the anger of the people.

Now, I know Masih uncle. He comes to our home in Jaipur to minister to my grandaunt. And he’s a really nice warm person, he’s really soft-spoken, doesn’t have much money, speaks Hindi-urdu, and is usually always smiling. But obviously that doesn’t mean anything to the people who believe that Christian missionaries deserve this fate.

Here I want to say however that Masih didn’t deserve this.

One could argue (falsely) that if Christians forcefully convert others, then they deserve to face the wrath of the people. I would partially agree (because I disagree with violence being an answer).

However, the fact is that Massey uncle did NOT forcefully convert anyone, especially if forcefully is by FORCE. Nor was he bribing anybody with “rice” to become Christians. Christians are such a minority in Jaipur, that usually Christians just stick together. And if they do venture out… they are always under suspicion… unless of course people of other faiths want some sort of prayer from Christians (their Jesus) usually when they are sick etc. Even my grandmother goes to people’s houses to pray for them when they are sick. Usually, people of other faiths go out of their way to find my grandmother to pray for them. Many times, if/when the prayers to Jesus work… a few (but only a few) believe in her God, Jesus.

I think, while people think Christians deserve if they are forcefully converting, their argument is less strong if Christians are getting beating up if they are preaching for conversion, WITHOUT FORCE or BRIBERY.

When violence occurs for ANY “conversion” attempt, people feel threatened and fight because they are scared that Christians will take over India, or some such nonsense. Regardless, because this is a ‘psychological’ fear, it is politicised by saying that all conversion to Christianity is FORCED! This kind of thinking is backed up by the rhetoric that there is no need to change change one’s original station, no need to change one’s belief and lifestyle… no need to change one’s God.

Many people, even our great Mahatma Gandhi, have hated the idea of conversion. Most Indian Hindus believe that people should stay in the situtation/station they were born in; the caste/religion etc. So a Christian should remain a Christian, while a Hindu should remain a Hindu, and a Muslim should remain a Muslim. That’s what Mahatma Gandhi wanted… even that each religion helps the other religion to become better.

However, this philosophy is a “Hindu” philosophy… and Mahatma Gandhi, as a Hindu, naturally wanted that for his people.

However, Christianity is built on the premise that what we have is not good… there is a better life in Jesus Christ. This better life however is not a life of material blessing, but of spiritual renewal… where we are finally able to overcome the sin in us and gain the strength to do good in this world… to love people… and suffer FOR people. This strength comes from God… and salvation is the ability to be like Jesus, to sacrifice ourselves for others (for Christians and non-Christians), to spread the message of love and sacrifice and forgiveness of Jesus, all of which is impossible in our own strength.

Clearly, this starkly contradicts and challenges the no-need-to-change form of Hinduism. By preaching Jesus’ message, people hear that Christians are telling Hindus that their religion, their life is not enough… not good enough. And that’s exactly what Christians believe about any religion, even Christianity… because even if a person is born a Christian, s/he is not good enough. a person needs Jesus to forgive them, and through Jesus’ living miraculous spirit, be transformed into something entirely new, different from the old ie. the phrase “born again”.

So, there is a conflict of worldviews, and even if Christians did not force anyone to believe their religion, the fact that they preach this message itself threatens Hinduism and all religions, even Christian established institutions.

Now I understand the current Hindu nationalistic rhetoric. There is growing literature (and movement) and sense of the greatness of the Hindu religion, of Hindu strength. And that’s excellent for those people. More Hindus need to understand who they are, what their religion speaks, and that they have an amazingly rich and diverse and even fulfilling (for them) religio-philosophy.

But such rhetoric extends beyond themselves to the other. Obviously it is anti “foreign”, where foreign is associated with past Mughal-Colonial rule that the collective kingdoms in the Indian subcontinent were subject to. The literature equates British colonial oppression with Christianity and they wants to retaliate against it, to assert themselves against it.

So… they attack, they are violent. And blame Christians for “forcing conversion” even as they force Hindus and Christians to resist this Christian message.

It’s the classic case of “projectionism” but it works… because people believe this nonsense and think that Christians deserve to get beaten up, even killed… after all, they’ll say, this is a Hindu nation… and Christians must respect and abide by Hindu (which they say Indian) rules.

But the Hindu rule being preached is that people should not be exposed to a Christian gospel of hope… about a saviour Jesus. They resist anything different from what their kind of ‘Indians’ have been taught (or should have been taught) in the Vedas.

So any preaching of change threatens many people. People don’t like being told that there life is not good enough (even if they complain about it everyday!). And when a gospel of hope comes along, they want to squash it… stop it… and they’ll do anything to shut it out. They’ll say it’s forceful conversion, but actually it’s just that they don’t want to be told that somebody else could be right.

Thus there is a huge insecurity regarding ‘truth’ among these violent mobsters. Anyone exposed to the great vedic literature and the peace it promotes… or even the war as duty in the Gita/mahabharata… knows that this violence against random missionary preachers is not the dharma being promoted in the Vedas. In fact, the Vedas don’ t have anything like the Islamic jihad because Hinduism is so diverse, the fight is always within! To overcome the evils within. Yet this external fight against missionary/preachers arises out of an insecurity, which may even be a fight for power, for control over the minds of people.

And this kind of violence never was and can never be justified!

At the end of it all however I know such violence will not stop because Christian preaching will not stop. In fact, it’s the reality that the more people try to stop Christians from preaching… from speaking about conversion… the more they are going to do it. The more Christians are going to get beaten up… the more Christians will rise. This is simply because Christianity is a crazy way of life (and I say it in all respect) that is built on the foundation of suffering of Jesus.

Thus, the history of Christianity bears witness to the idea that when people suffer for Christ, it inspires more people to be active and take initiative to spread the love of their suffering saviour. Even Christian scriptures testify to this very fact. Jesus promised persecution and some Christians even pray that persecution will increase that God’s strength will be made known through suffering. (Ironically, it is by leaving Christians alone is when they destroy themselves… they forget their saviour and try to save themselves and their lives at the expense of others.)

As weird (different) as Christianity is, all I can say is that nobody deserves to get beaten for preaching the gospel of change.

But history has taken its course. More violence will probably occur by the hands of self-confirmed political bigots, and more preachers will preach (some good and some bad)… and then more activists (in the name of a false religion and a false India) will attack and even kill… and all this will probably only prove that the perpretators of evil are really the ones that need to be ‘saved’.

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26 Responses to “Mindless violence against a Christian (Walter Masih): reflections after the “Jaipur incident””


  1. 1 fma7 May 2, 2007 at 1:22 am

    What about the mindless violence against 80,000 christians….talk of violence against i christian teacher, scripure and god is kinda meaningless to the 80,000 native aborigonals after the recent church scandals in Canada: Religous leaders must
    stay away from our children. Multi-generational epidemics of sanctioned and church protected pedophilia proves religion and children should not mix

    Stay out of our bedrooms. Work on correcting your own dysfunctional sexual urges

  2. 2 NAyK May 2, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    to fma7:

    I guess what you’re trying to say, “what about mindless violence against 80000 *BY* Christians. And I would certainly agree.

    All this violence on the basis of religion, greed, is mindless.

    I’m just surprised at our citizens being able to justify it.

    I’m sure in Canada (your place) there’s sick justification of violence (and as you mentioned “other sins”) by Christians.

    It’s all terrible.

    The solution, however, is not to racially or religiously generalise.

    Many Christians have ‘demonised’ others. Many Hindu’s are doing the same right now. And sometimes, people who hate violence, or sex-crimes, can generalise that “all religions” or “all Christians” or “all Hindus” are evil… which is just another way of starting to do the same “sin” of racial-ethnic-religious bigotry.

  3. 3 Alex Krychk May 2, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    I have worked with hindus long enough to understand that they would never force anybody to change their religion. That task is usually taken up by the missionaries. Just think about it, if a Hindu missionary (they have no such thing) starts preaching right in the middle of the bible belt in US, do you think he will be hale and healthy ? Same goes for the preacher…I say he ought to be beaten for disturbing peace and harmony.

  4. 4 fma7 May 2, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    4 and a half thousand priests were charged with child rape and sexual abuse just within the eastern USA, fortunately there are investigations on going worldwide but unfortunately the churches have destroyed records and taken measures to silence dissenters. Expensive lawyers have gobbled up huge piles of money that was deserving of the se survivors.
    80,000 aborigonal survivors of church catholic, united church and protesant run residental schools.
    This by the way is not generalizing. This is muli-generational abuse is being called genocide. Also at least 50,000 childen died in these Christian schools.
    Of course you have turned this all around and it becomes the innocent who are guilty of religious-racial- ethnic-bigotry. Pleease…

  5. 5 NAyK May 2, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    to fma7: What? “the innocent who are guilty of religious-racial-ethnic-bigotry” ?

    If you want anyone to admit that child abuse is wrong, well it is. Every single perpetrator of child abuse is wrong. Even the systems (be it Christian or secular) that protect the perpetrators are wrong! I agree.

    But let’s go to war crimes that governments commit… Iraq war, Afghanistan, etc (if you’re canadian then you have nothing to do with it) … while we reject the war crimes… does that mean however that the whole country is wrong? American foreign policies are terrible… but not all Americans are wrong.

    That’s all I am saying.

    And if you have the power to punish the perpetrators of violence… there is a WAY of doing it without violence. If a person wants to kill a child abuser… while what he/she is doing may be “noble”, he/she can’t get away with murder.

    The moment we distrust our laws… and give into to taking violence in our own hands… then how different are from the US (policies) that tries to think it’s doing the world a favour by justifying the death of innocent Iraqis as the “price of war” of their version of “national security”.

    My point is this:

    Sin is a sin. All child abuse is wrong. The church, the priests are wrong. I agree. You agree.

    But will you kill them?

  6. 6 NAyK May 2, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    To Alex Krychk:

    Dear Alez Krychk… last year 2006 February… some Hindus declared the DANGS district as a Kumbh area. That place was a forgotten relic of the past. Some people felt it had religious significance and declared that hundreds of thousands of Hindus must congregate their for a holy bath.

    All fine?

    Well… the DANGS region was primarily a tribal belt… filled with people who do not call themselves Hindus… and who are ‘outcastes’ in traditional Hinduism. Yet… while there is a huge drive in Hinduism to reclaim Indians back to Hinduism, they’ve been reclaiming tribals as well.

    All fine? Well here’s another point… the DANGS tribal people had started veering towards Christianity. In fact one estimate was that 20% claimed to be Chrisitans.

    When this Kumbh was announced, there were posters and CDs etc warning people to REVERT to the Hinduism (who? the tribals who never claimed they were Hindus). And there was a Hindu flag put over every home and there were unofficial warnings (except in these posters etc) that said that people who refuse to be Hindus… “will be killed and their women raped.”

    Now I know people who’ve worked in that region who have seen this first hand.

    This kind of behaviour is obviously not what ALL of Hinduism is about. If, like me, you are interested in Hinduism… especially it’s “high” philosophy… you will know that how this kind of aggressive “conversion” (or reconversion as they like to call it) bid contradicts a kind of Hindu philosophy. Of course this aggression comes from a small group who sometimes call themselves nationalists while others call them fundamentalists…. but this oppression by SOME Hindus does exist in certain pockets…. and is even justified by a larger group.

    You may blame Christians for destabilizing the region… but that’s exactly what these “nationalists” want us all to believe that Christians are to blame, so they deserve the violence perpetrated against them. And I think that you’re giving in to that ideology.

    The “fact” that someone is beaten for “disturbing the harmony” doesn’t mean that is RIGHT to beat up someone for disturbing the harmony, whether in the US or in India.

    In that land of Gandhi… violence should never justified… but now it’s justified. Even by you.

    Here’s an article that talks about the DANGS issue: http://humanrightsindia.blogspot.com/2006/02/dangs-ground-zero.html

  7. 7 NAyK May 2, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    To Alex Krychk:

    Walter Masih is also a family friend. I’ve known him since I was a child. He has been in Jaipur all his life. He has been ministering in that particular colony for over 15 years. It’s very different from a person coming as an outsider and preaching hate. He was in that region… longer than many of the youth who attacked him (some of them were in their teens!).

    That violence was clearly political, even to generate hate. (not justice).

  8. 8 fma7 May 3, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    But will you kill them? writes NAYK
    I don’t see the connection in you asking me this question? Do mean, should the criminal priests be killed? Personally I don’t agree with killing anyone . However I have an 11 yr. old child and if my child, whom I love dearly, was brutally and ritually raped and tortured over the years by a religious teacher or used to pleasure visiting church leaders who visited with only this purpose in mind ( this happened in the native church-run residental schools and is all documented) then yes, I would probably take vengence into my own hands. Wait,i sense you ready and overeger to pounce. Probably you are aware of vatican decree sent to all bishops where under threat of excommunication the pedophile priests are to be protected, no one is to talk and that there were / are other priests at hand with vatican millions who under cover of darkness wisk the criminal priest away and unbelivingly criminally place him again at work where he will continue to rape and abuse children. Furthermore, in these court battles between the 80,00
    native survivors and the Churches involved -the Churches were caught lying, and guilty of destroying records and paid huge sums to lawyers to avoid accountability. We are talking not a few rascals as Father Joe would have us believe but thousands and thounds of church leaders . I have posts documenting this evidence but sadly most of the Christian sites I contacted, not to mention all but one priest basically say – well what does this have to do with my immediate post Mostly Church people say that god will punish the wicked and the survivors will be awared in heaven which is basically meaningless for the innocent child who has been ritually raped over and over again . http://fatherjoe.wordpress.com reported me to Homeland Securing for Islamic facist sympathies. That’s what one expects from a Catholic priest or either the posts are delated

  9. 9 NAyK May 3, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Dear fma7:

    There are many issues going on here, and perhaps we’re talking in cross purposes. So let me try to understand your point of view… but perhaps being clearer about mine

    I totally entirely and even in my gut (with emotional anger) agree with you on your stand against the priests’ sexual exploitation of children (the number 80000 could be less considering the entire history of religious institutions against children). I am equally, no wait, I am even more angry with the catholic church’s protection of these priests… by not only protecting them, but allowing them to continue their life-styles… all in the name of ‘god’. These kind of institutions are the bane of human existence… and God (if there is a God?) willing, they will be eradicated sooner than later.

    So, dear fma7, please understand that I do agree with you on this. And your voice against sexual exploitation inside these churches must be heard.

    I am not a protector churches. I have no spiritual allegiance to any organisation. If anything, I am a Christian, and I would resist any association with these exploiters. In fact I believe that my faith gives me enough reason to contradict their life-style and even condemn it.

    The situation in India (from where I am writing) however has many other battles. Here Christians are minorities. Even though the institutional christianity is influential, it is not powerful. The Institutionalised Hindu order is more powerful, and a few (not all) institutions use their power for the destruction of others and the upliftment of themselves.

    It is these few that I am opposing… because they too defend their actions, they defend their violence against innocent people, saying that they have the right to exist in India while others don’t. Interestingly, many of them admire Hitler, and the intellectual foundation of this nationalism is akin to German nationalism.

    I see a parallel between the institutions that hide (and in effect justify) sexual exploitation in your country with similar powerful religious institutions in India that blatantly justify violence to serve their own purpose.

    My post reported not an isolated incident but one example out of hundreds that is happening each month in India. There is a definite and systematic progrom (though both overt and covert) against Muslims and Christians going on here… and the violence against the Christian preacher is just a small symptom.

    I guess what I would add is that I do not speak against all Hindus. It is only a few powerful Hindu organizations that are oppressors and exploiters (and a few Securalists, Muslims, Christians, Atheists in India are also not without blame).

    Perhaps you can see that practically, I also oppose the exploitation that you stand against. Though I would still hesitate (and perhaps you would too?) to say that all catholics (since there are many Catholic institutions even if they have only one pope) are sexual molestors… or that every single Catholic institution supports/hides/justifies such atrocities.

  10. 10 fma7 May 4, 2007 at 5:18 am

    Thankyou for the clarity and the time you have taken to address these points.
    cheers

  11. 11 Avatar May 6, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Hi dear
    The way India’s going these days is really frightening me. I just don’t comprehend the existing situation in the country.I really feel sorry for your family friend .Is he all right now? ( I don’t watch TV so you should throw some light on his condition)
    Justifying a violent act of any means is harmful to the society ,no matter who and why they committed it.

    India would sooner become a burning pot for religious conflicts if prejudices aren’t cleared among adherents of
    different religions.
    I appreciate your stance on ‘catholic-sex ‘ case.

    finally some thing about me: I’m a student . My exams got finished recently,so I’m back. I consider my self as a Hindu [ I don’t know why , may be a modern charvakite :) ] and I believe that progress of India lies in rationalism and science ,that is why I vehemently oppose missionary pranks and that Hindu terrorist organisations.

    Erasing prejudices is a great thing for sure. u say what??

  12. 12 pmitch May 7, 2007 at 2:41 am

    This question is a bit off topic, but I was wondering about the layout of your blog. What would normally be “pages” on other WordPress blogs are actually individual blogs on yours. How did you do that?

  13. 13 NAyK May 7, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    To pmitch:
    Regarding the pages on the blog, they are still ‘static’ pages… and I wish they were like blogs, but they aren’t.

    What I’ve done is
    i) made more pages with a ‘parent’ page. Thus, there are pages, and those pages have sub-pages.
    ii) I then “link” the subpages onto the main page, which is why you see many links.
    iii). and viola, I have multiple pages etc onto one page.

    I hope that helps. I do wish that wordpress allowed mutiple blogs within one blog, but I guess that would but just too much.

  14. 14 NAyK May 7, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    To Avatar:

    Hey good to get to know you. Briefly about me, I too am a student, but I’m doing my doctoral research, so no exams etc for me. :) As you are probably aware, I am a Christian, and like you, I too would reject superstition or ‘fundamentalism’, especially the kind that leads to violence or destruction of other people.

    Christianity is a strange religion, because like Hinduism, it too is very very diverse. Only, people don’t act as if it is diverse, because christianity puts a high premium on ‘being right’ and so many Christians, regardless of the differences, will think that they and only they are right. Thankfully, not all differences in christianity lead to violence… most differences are accepted as such and people just live life agreeing to disagree (there are exceptions, of course).

    Rationalism and science; well… I like rationality (not necessarily rationalism which is a philosophical movement, but I guess you meant rationality?) and science, yes, well, I’m afraid of science because I almost failed it miserably. I’m better in Literature and History and Philosophy. :)

    Anyway… I do believe that there is a God. And that itself is a belief that seems irrational and unscientific. I believe also that it is God who creates the world, not humans who create God… meaning, humans are limited in their understanding of God, in effect, it is rational to believe that God is beyond “human” rationality. I believe this logic helps me to justify my belief in a God who is greater than me.

    Finally to erase prejudice… unlike how many have interpreted this God… I feel that God is not prejudiced. He does not hate/judge without cause… and which is why I too reject prejudice and try not to hate/judge without cause.

    In effect it is God and my belief in that God that helps me to fight the prejudice around me, and perhaps, in me.

  15. 15 Avatar May 7, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    hi
    You seem to be a devout person.The format of the sentences when you are describing God clearly reveals your deep faith in Him/Her/It.
    well, I believe rationality is the essence of rationalism. I’m an observer in this world, so I consider non existence of God to be an easy approach to understand things.( I use Occam’s razor here)
    ha .. but that’s not the lone thing ,I don’t understand why I involuntarily pray to a higher being when my grades are out. :) ( In this case i approve of pascal’s wager)
    may be every human being needs one true friend to console them.
    Through the times definition of God has changed . Initially He/She/It was commanding , furious and a dictator.And later people changed, God also has changed .He/She/It became a friend and Platonic love emerged between Him/Her/It and believers. Neverthless this does more good to the society then the notion of a fierceful God.

    some where deep in my heart I hear reverberations of a God calling me but you know my brain says that I have ‘No reason to believe God’.
    I’m confused .

  16. 16 NAyK May 7, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    To avatar:

    Thank you for being so honest about yourself and your beliefs.

    One thing I believe about God, both as a philosophical concept, and through my personally experience: “God is.” It’s we human beings who fail to understand him/her/it (as you say) clearly.

    What I mean to say is that, as human beings change, it may not be that God changes, but it is our interpretation of God that changes.

    I would also urge you, dear ‘avatar’ to not take the ‘reverberations of a God calling” you lightly. Too many people have heard these ‘reverberations’ and ignored them. But those who have responded, even me, have seen our response to those ‘callings’ as the turning point (definitive moment) of our lives.

    ps. btw, did you know that Pascal was a devout Christian? Even I didn’t know that until I studied him a little. He also said that there is a God shaped vacuum in our lives, that only God can fill… nothing else.

  17. 17 Avatar May 8, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for your suggestion :) . I ‘ll try to make God a part of my life ( this would also bring smiles to my family members)
    I know about Pascal and other theistic scientists.
    I find arguments for/against existence of God by these brainy beings fascinating. If you can create time go through Godel’s proof for existence of God.(of course I don’t agree with him in his certain axioms , the will to show to other sentient beings that God exists for us ,for all is simply rejuvenating for me)

    The main hinderance for me to believe God is that in a few years I’m going to become a computer scientist where we use formidable logic to make things work . obviously ,logic prevents me to believe that there is a being who sits above all in the clouds and controls things by telegraphing a ‘book’. For me that’s one of the oddish things I ever encountered.
    But I do feel that quenching one’s spiritual thirst is necessary in that my God is a friend to me and nothing more. I don’t give a damn whether He/She/It controls universe or not.

  18. 18 Paul September 21, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Christians have no morales. Every single one of them say their a christian and believe in a god when in actualy fact they go around committing a higher percentage of murders than atheists would or perhaps other religious groups. Christians are mindless mutants and the religion should be put down before it corrupts more young children into falling into a religion where nothing is taken seriously.

  19. 19 wagwu s.c October 28, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    i want an imformation on the christain victory after going through a challenge

  20. 20 NAyK October 28, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    To wagwu s.c:

    I don’t know what you mean by victory, but at the moment I see no victory. I think only God can achieve final victory… where there is finally some understanding of truth and love.

  21. 21 Avatar November 7, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    To NAyK :where have you been all these days?

  22. 22 NAyK November 7, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    HI avatar, I’ve “posted” my reply. Thank you for taking interest.

  23. 23 Anonymous October 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Having travelled throughout India extensively, and studied it’s Culture & History, I am only too aware of the true ‘Roots’ of this Anti-Christian sentiment.It springs from the British Raj’s Colonial time’s ‘heavy-handed’ imposition of Christian-Values as superior. Ulike most uneducated Indians, Gandhi understood Christians’ sharing their Jubilation. I reach Hindus& Muslims, Spiritually, because I begin the dialogue respectfully: Within the context of their own Faith-basis!

  24. 24 the brit method February 3, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s
    both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you,
    you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently
    about. I’m very happy I came across this in my search for something concerning this.


  1. 1 More comments on the 'Walter Masih' incident: responding to 'The Hindu' editorial « a (Indian) Tryst with Theology Trackback on May 11, 2007 at 12:39 pm
  2. 2 Foundation for Defense of Democracies Trackback on March 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

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Passage for this Season

Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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