Samuel Stokes, a missionary who worked with lepers in India in the early 1900s, walked through the Punjab region with only a water bottle and a blanket. He depended wholly on the hospitality of the region’s residents.
In one village, Stokes received a particularly hostile reception. Village leaders sat in chairs in a circle, leaving Stokes sitting on the floor the entire evening. When he asked if he might teach them and nurse their sick, they hurled insults at him. Stokes offered no reply.
Finally, the men gave the missionary some stale bread crusts in a dirty bowl. Stokes thanked them and ate. This scene repeated itself for two days. But then on the third day, the top village official laid his turban at Stokes’ feet as a sign of respect. “We’d heard that Jesus’ disciples were commanded to love their enemies,” the man said, “and we decided to put you to the test.”
Having seen Jesus’ love in action through Stokes, the amazed villagers found him credible. They served him a rich feast and listened eagerly to his teachings.