I love hosting an interview. Especially before a live audience.
I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it, given my years at Socrates in the City, and now on my new TV show, “100 Huntley Street.”
And while I always do my best to prepare, last weekend I wasn’t expecting to encounter the love of Jesus in such a powerful way—to almost stare into the face of Love.
As you might know, Canon Andrew White, the aptly named “Vicar of Baghdad,” received the William Wilberforce Award from the Colson Center. After receiving the award, he gave a few—but potent—remarks, and then sat down on stage with me for a chat in front of our 300-member audience.
He is a tall man, with thick glasses and an almost Middle Eastern complexion. He moves and talks slowly and deliberately, as he is battling with Multiple Sclerosis. And he can stare right through you one moment, and completely disarm you the next with his amazing, and I have to tell you, perfectly timed, sense of humor.
As an Anglican priest, he has ministered in Baghdad—or Bagh-DAD, as he says—for 16 years in almost impossibly dangerous conditions. He and his church provide first-rate medical and dental treatment to all comers, Christian and Muslim alike. Whenever he travels about he is surrounded by many bodyguards and Iraqi soldiers. And he has lost over 1,200 of his parishioners to the daily and sectarian violence that has engulfed the city.
But what really sets him apart—aside from his obvious courage—is that the man exudes love.
In the few minutes I had with him—which, by the way, you have got to watch, go to BreakPoint.org—we
covered everything. But it always came back to love.
“My parents,” Canon White said, “the first thing they taught me was that Jesus loves me.” And then, of course, he broke out into “Jesus loves me This I Know,” as the crowd sings along. “I always loved Jesus sooooo much,” he said. “The earliest memories I have [are] of loving Jesus and Him loving me.”
And you cannot help but believe him. We showed a brief video about his ministry, and afterward he told the crowd how it brought him to tears watching it, because, he said, and you just have to hear the anguish in his voice “I miss my people. . . I saw my children. I saw my land that was broken and torn. And I thought, I want to be there. I’ve seen so many of my people killed. And I’ve cried and cried and cried. Because my loved ones are no more.”
Yet he urged us, plead with us, to serve Jesus “on the front lines,” wherever we were, in America or in Baghdad. He said, “We’re working radically for reconciliation, and we do it by loving, often by loving the bad people. Because Jesua said love your enemy. Love those that hurt you. Love, love, and love.”
Words almost fail me here. The tragedy, the anguish, the hurt he has lived with, and all he talks about is the love of Jesus. And all he wants to do is return to his people and feed them, and heal them, and love them.
Please, please come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to my interview with Canon White and to his acceptance speech. I guarantee you’ll laugh, you may cry, and I hope and trust you’ll be humbled as I was to bask in the love of Jesus in the presence of this remarkable man.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: May 9, 2014