Published October 27, 2015

Paul's Epistle
"Your Weapon"

Every new day brings reports of atrocities being committed against Christians in the Middle East by Islamic militants. But Christians are still witnessing to their faith, sometimes in unusual and unexpected ways.

A 30-year old Iraqi nun, Sister Hayat, lived a quiet life of devotion in a Dominican monastery near Mosul, Iraq. A report from ASSIST News Service says she helped care for children in an orphanage there. She also taught anthropology at a local university.

But then ISIS jihadists overran the city.

Realizing that fleeing was the only way to save their lives, all the nuns packed up to run. Sister Hayat said, "We met in the church and prayed, before kissing the floor one last time and closing the door of the monastery behind us." They fled to the city of Erbil where they are caring for elderly nuns.

But the ISIS commander found out where they were staying and telephoned the abbess, Sister Maria, to taunt her: "Just to let you know, I'm sitting in your chair now and am running things here."

But the commander did demand to know where the nuns kept their weapons. He had been unable to find a weapons cache in the monastery, and couldn't believe that such an important building in the community would be without an armory.

So Sister Maria told him how to get to the monastery's library. His subsequent careful search there, however, turned up nothing. He called her back, furious. "There are no weapons here, just books!"

But he had, indeed, found their weapon cache. Sister Maria explained to him that those books – Bibles – are the sword of the spirit, able to change a person from the inside. "The Bible is the only weapon we use," she told him. "I encourage you to start reading it."


It is amazing to me that, even under such dire life-and-death situations, God provides a way to present His word to those who need it the most.

Ephesians 6:17 confirms what Sister Maria boldly told the ISIS commander: "the sword of the Spirit" is "the word of God." In fact, "the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword ... a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

As times grow more difficult for Christians everywhere, God's word, as presented in the Bible, must be our weapon of choice, too.

But far too many Christians just aren't familiar enough with the Bible to use it effectively. They haven't undergone sufficient "basic training" in using their weapon. Faithful Bible study – individually, in church group settings and otherwise – is the "basic training" we need to use skillfully and effectively the weapon God has given us.

I noted recently that a sword isn't of any value if it's kept in its scabbard. The Bible isn't of any value if it's kept in the cupboard. And survey after survey has found that Americans – Christians included – just aren't studying the Bible as they should.

Know what the Bible says. Know how to use it. It's the only way to defend against the nonsense that's going on around us, some of which "sounds good" even to Christians who aren't Biblically grounded and blindly accept society's word rather than God's word.

The Bible is the "weapon" that God has provided to help us help ourselves "grow" our faith – and that of others. After all, " comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

- Paul

Note: Sister Hayat's story is from via ASSIST News Service, with reporting by Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis. Used by permission.

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