Last night, I posted a powerful story about Jean-Baptiste Ntakirutimana. The first time I read the story, I wept. And I continued to weep for about 30 minutes. Even this morning, as I write this, it is still bringing to tears to my eyes.
As I read his story, several revelations appeared to me:
- MUTUAL HEALING: Jean-Baptiste stated at the beginning of the story that his reason for the visit was not only to initiate his own healing but to help Mr Turikunkiko with HIS! So many times, we use forgiveness as weapon of punishment instead of a tool for improvement. Jean – Baptiste was compassionate enough to realize that as much as he needed healing for his pain, Mr Turikunkiko HAD to be in pain too. Also, Jean –Baptiste realized this crime was not just against his mother. This act had affected BOTH families and both needed healing. One of the first things Jean – Baptiste asked during his visit was how was Mr Turikunkiko’s family.
- PEOPLE ARE LESS IMPORTANT THAN THINGS: Jean – Baptiste learned that no one in the militia wanted to murder his mother – out of respect for her. But when they were informed that there were no other family members remaining, that respect vanished. Her life was the only thing standing between them and the “family belongings”. So often we hear that someone was murdered over a game, an article of clothing, and even sometimes another life. The last sentence in that paragraph is Jean-Baptiste’s declaration “So she had to be killed” is almost stated as if there were no other choice.
- CHANGE IS POSSIBLE! – Mr Turikunkiko’s spirit brightens as Jean – Baptiste extends his forgiveness. Mr Turikunkiko may have been affected by his current state of life BUT that extension changes him. The isolation from those he was once connected with – friends and family – may have provided opportunity for reflection. And as a result, repentance may in his heart. And if he follows through with his actions in meeting with other families, it is possible he can move to redemption.
- IT TAKES COURAGE, AND FAITH, TO FORGIVE – Ultimately, I was struck and overwhelmed by Jean-Baptiste’s desire to visit Mr Turikunkiko. How do you prepare yourself to visit the person responsible for your mother’s death? Throughout the story, I was amazed by Jean – Baptiste’s courage and compassion for someone he could have easily have hated and despised. And may have. But I’m sure that it took a great amount of faith of some type to conquer those dark feelings and emotions.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. It is a key that unlocks emotional bondage, setting the prisoner free – the prisoner being you. It is a balm that soothes the heart and spirit. It is a vehicle that release us from the past allowing us to move into the future. It is a level of love that not many are courageous or strong enough to reach for. And forgiveness is the blood that reunites and bonds us together.
If you have any powerful, moving or funny stories about forgiveness, you are welcome and encouraged to share! Someone else may be set free by your story.
As always, with hope and love,
A scene of forgiveness and mercy from The Mission
I Forgive You by songstress Rachelle Ferrell
Quotes of the day:
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.
Martin Luther King
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.