When Enemies Are in One’s Own Household
Sadly, however, not all respond favorably to the “good news of peace.” This produces divisions in households, with some accepting the “good news” and others rejecting it. Hence Jesus said: “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.”—Matt. 10:34-36.
For an individual to endure bitter opposition from those whom he loves is not easy. But it can be done if he truly appreciates that nothing is more important than maintaining a proper relationship with the Creator and with his Son Jesus Christ. The fact that even in our day many have put up with trying circumstances in their own households in order to serve God can encourage one to endure difficulties without giving up.
● Consider the experience of a ‘friend of peace’ in western Africa. He writes:
“Before coming to a knowledge of Bible truth I was very much disgusted with all the injustices that I saw in religion and politics. I felt so discouraged that I was thinking about taking my own life.
“It was then that one of Jehovah’s witnesses called on me. Though not educated in the schools of this system, she told me some very encouraging things that answered the very questions I had been thinking about. After reading the two magazines she left with me, my entire outlook on life began to change. In the same week I obtained the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life and began to study and apply what I was learning.
“Soon opposition began. First of all it came from those in my neighborhood. They began making fun of me in front of my wife and children, saying that I was going mad because of studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses.
“Because of what people were saying, my daughter decided to try to stop me. She called the police and they came, along with other Catholic ‘friends,’ to try to convince me to stop studying. Then they told me to get into the police car, as they were going to take me to the hospital. I tried to tell them that I was not sick and endeavored to resist. But they forced me to get into the car. When I got out I found that they had taken me to a hospital for the mentally ill.
“The room where they put me was very dirty and smelled of urine. It was so filthy that I did not sit down but stood up for two days without sleeping. Finally some cleaning was done in the room. But it was a terrible experience to live among people who were really insane. Only by calling on Jehovah in prayer was I able to endure under those conditions.
“Then suddenly I was freed. I learned that this was because of my son, who is a captain on a ship and who was in France at the time. When he heard what had happened to me, he sent a telegram demanding that I be released immediately. How thankful I was!
“When I returned home, my family was ashamed of what they had done to me. I did not stop studying but increased my intake of spiritual food both in personal study as well as by attending meetings regularly. Soon I began telling the ‘good news’ to others and later I got baptized.
“What about my family? Happily I can say that my daughter who was mainly responsible for my being mistreated is now regularly attending the meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses along with another of my daughters. My wife and daughters share in the discussion of a Bible text each day. How happy I am that I endured my trials!”
● Another example of what can happen is the case of a young man from Ireland. Because of the violence and bloodshed marking the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, this young man went to sea as a steward on a refrigerated cargo ship bound for New Zealand. Somewhere en route someone had placed the books “Let Your Name Be Sanctified” and Is the Bible Really the Word of God? in the ship’s library. Seeing the books, the young man decided to read them to see if this religion taught and practiced peace.
He was so impressed with what he read that on arriving at Timaru, New Zealand, he immediately located the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses and attended meetings. Before the ship sailed away, Jehovah’s witnesses there supplied him with additional literature and explained that he might face opposition from family members and associates when he returned to his home in Londonderry, Ireland.
Back in Ireland, the young man had a confrontation with his father. His father said that, if he should see his son going from house to house witnessing, he would run him down with his car. At his son’s obvious astonishment, the father admitted that he could not do it himself, but ‘would get some of the boys to do it and, when they find your body, they will blame the Orangemen [Protestants].’
Later, in London, the young man, thoroughly despondent and contemplating a return to sea, thought of giving up the truth he had learned. But what did he do? Writing to Jehovah’s witnesses in Timaru, he tells what happened: “I started thinking, Was it right to leave God after really finding him for the first time? No! It was not right to leave God. So I phoned the Bethel [the branch office of the Watch Tower Society] in London for the nearest Kingdom Hall address. I am now happy to say I am with my brothers and sisters here.”
● A Moslem man in Israel who began studying the Bible also encountered opposition from his family. His wife was especially suspicious of his interest in the “good news.” She accused him of wanting to abandon her in order to marry a Christian woman. She also declared her intention to leave with the children, and brought various members from her family and from among his relatives to try to persuade him to leave his new faith. Neighbors joined in the arguments and opposition. Then the Moslem authorities began a campaign against him, denouncing him and Jehovah’s witnesses in general, at a talk given in the local mosque. Even so-called Christians told him to go back to his previous religion.
But throughout it all this man has stood firm. Now he is beginning to see some changes. One example of this was when his wife interrupted his weekly home Bible study and asked: “Won’t there be any part for me in this paradise? I also want to live in this new order.”
Truly, even if family members demonstrate themselves to be “enemies,” one can endure opposition without giving up, and, perhaps, have the happy experience of seeing them change their attitude.