Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How Can I Forgive Him?

In an emotionally charged courtroom a South African woman stood listening to white police officers acknowledge their atrocities (before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Nelson Mandela government of the 1990’s to facilitate national healing following the terrible years of apartheid).  Officer van de Broek acknowledged that along with others, he had shot her 18 year old son at point-blank range.  He and the others partied while they burned her son’s body, turning it over and over on the fire until it was reduced to ashes.
Eight years later van de Broek and others returned to seize her husband.  She was forced to watch her husband be bound to a woodpile, as they poured gasoline over his body and ignited the flames that consumed him.  The last words she heard her husband say were:  “Forgive them.”
Now van de Broek awaited judgment.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission asked the woman what she wanted.  “I want three things,” she said calmly.  “I want Mr. van de Broek to take me to the place where they burned my husband’s body.  I would like to gather up the dust and give him a decent burial.  Second, Mr. van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give.  So twice a month I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him.  Third, I would like Mr. van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God and that I forgive him too.  I would like to embrace him so he can know my forgiveness is real”
As the elderly woman was led across the courtroom, van de Broek fainted, overwhelmed.  Someone began singing “Amazing Grace.”  Gradually every one joined in.

  Stanley W. Green, “When We are Reconciled, We are Free,” The Canadian       Mennonite 4, no.17 (September 4, 2000): 11.       As quoted in
“More Than You Could Ever Imagine, by Bernie Owens, S.J. (p32)

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