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Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17, 18

A few years ago I was leading a group from my home church in Canada on a mission trip to Cuba. The church in Cuba had experienced a significant revival movement and the fast-growing house church movement was overflowing with new believers.

In Havana we visited the Baptist Seminary and were delighted to have some time with its then elderly president, Dr. Vegilla. He spoke perfect English and shared with us how he had spent five years in Castro’s prison system in the 1960’s just because he was a Christian pastor. He further itemized the pressures the church had experienced at the hand of the regime over the past five decades. Then he smiled and in his very positive style of expression concluded, “But we have learned three things through all of this. We learned not to fear, not to hate and not to harm!”

I have meditated on this statement for some time and concluded that it expresses very succinctly the biblical essence of standing strong through any storm. And although his three point outline is stated negatively, there are very positive aspects of each:

· learning “not to fear” infers a development of boldness and courage

· learning “not to hate” implies a focus on love, forgiveness and grace

· learning “not to harm” indicates a commitment to the biblical principles of non-violence and aggressive love

Dr. Vegilla summed it up perfectly and as you continue to read these devotionals, you will see dozens of specific applications for all aspect of discipleship in following our Lord Jesus.

RESPONSE: Today I want to live in boldness, love and non-violence. I am committed not to fear, not to hate, and not to harm anyone.

PRAYER: Lord, this kind of living is counter-culture. I need Your strength and power to live this way. Help me—as well as Your persecuted church—to keep this as my focus.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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