Saturday, December 14, 2013
"Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace." - Nelson Mandela
Philip Yancey in Rumours of Another World shares a story of the remarkable. The story of an atrocity that happened during the days of apartheid in South Africa and the reconciliation that followed in a court room many years later.
A policeman named Van de Broek recounted an incident when he and other officers shot an eighteen-year-old boy and burned the body, turning it on the fire like a piece of barbecue meat in order to destroy the evidence. Eight years later Van de Broek returned to the same house and seized the boy's father. The wife was forced to watch as policemen bound her husband on a woodpile, poured gasoline over his body, and ignited it.
The courtroom grew hushed as the elderly woman who had lost first her son and then her husband was given a chance to respond. "What do you want from Mr. Van de Broek?" the judge asked. She said she wanted Van de Broek to go to the place where they burned her husband's body and gather up the dust so she could give him a decent burial. His head down, the policeman nodded agreement.
Then she added a further request, "Mr. Van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. 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. And 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."
Spontaneously, some in the courtroom began singing "Amazing Grace" as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand, but Van de Broek did not hear the hymn. He had fainted, overwhelmed.