Monthly Archives: March 2015

“The Strong Hand of Love”

“The Strong Hand of Love”

What must it be like to be an inmate on death row? Slowly watching the days and the hours ebb away knowing the day of your last breath is imminent. Probably hoping and longing for the powers that be to provide a “stay of execution”. What must it be like to be on death row knowing in your heart that you are innocent? What must it be like to be on death row knowing you are guilty of the crime and deserving of punishment?

ICHTHYS Theatre…a local theatre company who is passionate about the arts, desiring to communicate the timeless message of love and forgiveness have excelled again in putting the issues of redemption and forgiveness on centre stage. “The Strong Hand of Love” is a local play written by Brantford native Martin Smith, and directed by Sandra Anderson.

Martin Smith’s portrayal of two men on death row take us to the heart of the emotions behind the many sided scenes of justice. From the abusive mockery of cold hearted prison guards to the personal motivations of lawyers who defend the condemned and then more closely to the heartbreak and hope of a loving family watching, waiting and hoping for the deliverance of their loved one.

“The Strong Hand of Love” is well played and well acted with a seasoned and thought provoking presentation, providing a rare glimpse into a harsh and morbid world of waiting for death. Yet at the centre of it all is forgiveness…how a guilty heart can know true forgiveness. The reality is that only those who know they are guilty can truly know the reality of being forgiven.
It is not until we acknowledge our personal guilt that we know “the strong hand of love”.

Consider this your personal invitation to supporting the local arts of Brantford and Brant County. “The Strong Hand of Love” is playing this weekend at The Gord Paynter Theatre at North Park Secondary School, (north entrance) 280 North Park Road, Brantford this weekend 7:30pm on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 and a 2pm matinee on Sunday, March 8.

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Why “The People of the Cross”?

Why “The People of the Cross”?

Why are “the people of the cross” so offensive? Why is there so much hatred toward Christians? Really. What is the distinguishing mark that makes them so offensive that fellow human beings would want to destroy them? Why is it that those who follow a message of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness are the target of such malicious hatred?
With the world watching in mid February…twenty one men, clad in the unmistakeable orange jump suits were marched on to a Libyan beach somewhere along the Mediterranean and were brutally slaughtered before a watching world…simply because they followed Jesus, and they were willing to die for their belief. The gruesome caption over the screen warned “…the people of the cross and the hostile Egyptian Church.”

I have read with sadness the stories of some of these men which were published in the days after the slaying. Young men in their prime, some had just married and some were about to be married. Some left behind a young wife and young children, whom they would never see again. According to WORLD Magazine many of them had already been suffering for their faith, they had already faced severe persecution in their home villages simply for what they believed. They experienced harassment, threats, difficulty finding jobs so much so that they could not support their families. And what I find personally emotionally staggering is that 13 of the 21 men came from the same village, the same church family. What a heartbreaking loss for a local church and a local community to experience.

Now we know that it is more than just Christians who are being brutally murdered by ISIS. There are even fellow Muslims who do not subscribe to the extremist ideology of ISIS who do not capitulate and they end up dying for their faith as well.

But the question remains…Why? What did these men do to deserve such a horrific end? Jesus, Himself, had warned His original followers and every generation that followed (even to the current generation)…that the world will, in fact, hate them. The world will hate Christians because they first hated Him, Jesus. And they will do so …without cause. Jesus went on to say that there will be some who will honestly believe that they are doing God’s holy work by killing Christians. And yes that is the prevailing ideology of the terrorist group ISIS. Go figure! You can read about it for yourself in John 15:18-16:4. But just imagine that for a moment…Jesus, the Son of God, a man known for His love for mankind, His grace, His mercy and His kindness…and His followers…okay albeit not perfect representations of Him, but for the most part they do their best to act, love and live like Him…and they are hated with such monstrous viciousness! This is very difficult to explain, and yet it is the reality in so many parts of the world.

So how should we respond? In Matthew 5:43 Jesus clearly said to His followers “But I say to you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”Jesus said this. I recently heard an interview with a brother of one of the men who was murdered on that beach. Speaking Arabic, thankfully, it was translated into English… the brother was asked what he would do if he met the man who killed his brother…to which he replied “I would take him home and feed him a meal.” Then the same brother was asked if he would be willing to pray for the one who killed his brother? And he said “yes”. And he even did it on live satellite television, transmitted through out the mid eastern world. Of course this interview would never make the headlines on CNN or CBC yet “the people of the cross” are showing grace, mercy and forgiveness for the ones who hate them so much without cause.

The Christ of the cross and “…the people of the cross” would want you to know today, that the way of the cross leads to Jesus. You do not have to jump through religious hoops, or even change your behaviour, that is merely religion. The people of the cross do not have religion. They have a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. You too can have that relationship with God by simply trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of all your sins. To personally know that your sins are forgiven, provides you with hope, joy and peace not just in this life, but for all of eternity.

Respectfully submitted,
David Virr
Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Burford.