International Ministries

Surprised by the power of forgiveness

September 4, 2007 Journal
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And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11: 25) We recently arrived back to South Africa, and have been settling back in and visiting our partners in mission. Thank you all who made our year in America so fruitful for the service we are now here to render. Our partners are very glad to have us back, and thank you for sending us. On a recent Sunday, I attended two different worship settings with a common theme. In the morning we worshipped in a multi-ethnic setting with the message brought by an Afrikaner pastor named Mark. Pastor Mark talked about how some people have experienced racial discrimination, sexual abuse or other serious disappointments in their past. He warned that we can get trapped by our past experiences in way that robs us of the ability to carry out God’s call for our life in the present. He reminded us that we only have one life to serve God. That Sunday evening, I attended the opening of a week of tent crusade meetings in a predominantly Indian area north of Durban. The evangelist was of Asian Indian descent named Mark. He shared how he was very active in the struggle against Apartheid, how he was often jailed for his activism, and how he hated the whites who had taken away his family farm when he was a boy of ten. Two months later, his father died. Later he became an evangelist, but found that his ministry lacked power until he realized that his hatred of the whites which had oppressed his family and caused the premature death of his father needed to be dealt with. He dealt with this by writing letters of forgiveness to all those who had been involved personally with his family’s case of oppression. An Afrikaner politician named Marias wrote him back and indicated that his forgiveness was accepted. Evangelist Mark told us that a dam burst in his evangelistic ministry after being liberated from the burden of anger and resentment that he carried. The message of evangelist Mark brought to mind the witness of Anita’s grandfather Balint Ficsor back in Hungary. Papa Ficsor, a Baptist, had been a successful peasant farmer before Stalinism overran Hungary and took away his farm and possessions. It was evident however that Papa Ficsor had forgiven the Russians, and he told many amusing stories about how he had become friendly with the local Russian soldiers who had overseen his village. At the time, I never understood how he could forgive the people who had taken everything away from him. Evangelist Mark would have understood perfectly, and now I do as well. Who do you need to forgive for God to move powerfully in your life? How will men and women see your love for Jesus in this, and be amazed? Rick Gutierrez