March 3, 2020

Tuesday, March 3

Mark 1:14-28

 In today’s passage, we read of the beginning of Jesus’s ministry.  One of the first acts of His ministry was the calling of His disciples.  I am particularly struck by the reactions of those disciples.  When called, Simon and Andrew immediately left their fishing nets to follow Jesus.  Likewise, James and John left their father in their fishing boat to follow Jesus.  What immeasurable faith we see in these disciples to leave their livelihoods and families to follow Jesus.  Their faith reminds me of another individual who left the life she knew to follow Jesus.

In 1998, statues of ten twentieth-century Christian martyrs were placed in niches over the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey.  Among those martyrs depicted is Esther John.  Born Qamar Zia in Chennai, India, she was raised in a Muslim family.  When she was seventeen, her father sent her to a Christian school.  Through observing the belief of one of teachers she became a secret believer in Jesus.  She and her family moved to Karachi the next year to become citizens of the newly created nation of Pakistan. Her teacher in Chennai contacted another Christian teacher in Karachi and told her about Esther.  Amazingly, that teacher was able to locate Esther among thousands of refugees in Karachi.  She gave Esther a pocket-sized New Testament which Esther would eventually secretly read through 27 times.

Several years later, Esther sought refuge with a Christian family in Karachi after her family arranged for her to be married to a Muslim man.  The family sent Esther several hundred miles away to Sahiwal to live with American Christian missionaries for her safety.  There she was baptized, took the Christian name of Esther John, and joined the missionaries in their ministry.

One morning the missionaries found Esther brutally murdered.  Although no one was ever charged with her murder, it is believed that she was killed by her brothers due to her conversion to Christianity and her disobedience to the religion in which she was born.  While going through Esther’s possessions looking for clues, the detective told the missionaries, “This girl was in love with your Christ.”

I imagine that the disciples and Esther John felt angst and trepidation about leaving the known for the unknown.   I know I would.  I am reminded, however, of the words Paul wrote to Timothy: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  (2 Tim. 1:7).  May we each experience the faith of Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Esther John.

 

Scott Mitchell