Today, a book I read referred to this story. Before I knew it, I followed the citation, typed in the link and read the article. While it’s been a few years since the time of the incident and the article, I believe such stories transcend time because of the courageous sacrifices that are present in them. In the article, one of the University Professors who was present during the incident expressed the beauty of Masih’s (the janitor) sacrifice in the following way:
“Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there,” said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. “[Pervez Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite (bolded for emphasis) being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.”
Professor Malik is right-on when he duly notes that Masih’s sacrifice rose above violence and social division, two evils which mutually fuel one another. However, I believe the irony of Malik’s assessment is that what he attributes as an impediment to Masih’s sacrifice was probably the impetus behind his sacrifice. You see, I believe rather than sacrificing his life DESPITE being a Christian, Pervez Masih sacrificed his life BECAUSE he was a Christian.
It’s amazing how much a single word can reveal about one’s perceptions and beliefs. In the case of Professor Malik’s use of the word “despite”, I believe it speaks of a world that’s grossly misinformed about Christianity. In fact, if he were around more truly gospel-awakened Christians, I believe he would have rephrased his comment. In any case, I think the lesson to take from all this is to live a Christ-centered life that breaks stereotypes, stands up to the evil around us, and challenges hearts. In fact, I believe as Christians better grasp and live out the gospel, that more non-Christians will credit their acts of loving service TO Christianity and not DESPITE it.
So, brother or sister in Christ – how are YOU lovingly shattering people’s misconceptions about Christianity? And for those of you who are not of the Christian faith, what are your conceptions of it and how were they formed? (Psst – These two questions are not unrelated.)