After the extra long weekend and blissful Easter holiday, I am sure this has been a difficult week for most of us. I, personally, had to psyche myself and get into work mode on Tuesday morning, in addition to setting my alarm clock back by an hour or two.
Apart from the water and electricity cuts, the hangovers and bits of sand from the shores of Lake Malawi on the soles of your shoes, what other memories do you have of this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Easter vacation? Did you do a bit of reflection on the reason for the season and truly appreciate its significance?
As a Christian, I am always amazed at how Jesus Christ consented to come into this world and die painfully so that our sins could be forgiven. He suffered humiliation and torture.Ã‚Â He was mercilessly beaten up, and in the middle of all this pain, He was forced to drag the cross which he would be nailed to and left to die for something that did not even concern Him. Close your eyes and imagine it.
How many of us would be willing to go through the same for the sake of someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s or indeed for our own forgiveness? Come to think of it, how many of us would be willing to fully forgive the people in our lives when they wrong us?
The issue of forgiveness reminds me of a story I heard in church during an Easter service a couple of years ago. For some reason, this sermon touched me so deeply that I still remember the narration, even though I cannot remember the preacher himself!
It was about a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who decided to tell his story at a worldwide preachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ conference.
This man, a Tutsi, narrated how, as a boy, Hutu soldiers invaded his village. The killings had barely begun and people were still living normally, blissfully unaware of what would happen to them. One day, as he was coming from school, he noticed that his compound was in disarray. He ran into the house and discovered soldiers beating up his mother, father and sisters. When he cried out to them to stop, they sniggered and issued some threats, all the while calling the family Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcockroaches.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Some of the men raped his mother while others forced the family to watch. Next, they killed each and every member, except the boy, by cutting off their heads. They left him alive, saying his punishment would be to carry the gruesome memory with him for a lifetime.
Because of what he had witnessed, the man led a tortured life and often wished he were dead. He made a couple of suicide attempts but did not die. Eventually, he was taken in by missionaries and found solace in GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Word.
He studied to become a pastor and surmounted the biggest obstacle in his Christian life; forgiving the men who had killed his family. At the conference, he announced that God had finally granted him the power to forgive and that with it, peace had settled upon his heart.
As he finished telling his story, another man started crying, shouting and running up to the podium. Tears running down his face, his body racked in sobs, he confessed to be the ringleader of the group that had killed the other manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family.
He said the incident had haunted him for a long time after the genocide and that, to find peace, he had turned to God and also became a preacher. The one thing he wished for was to meet the young boy he had tortured, if he was still alive, and apologise. The two hugged each other in forgiveness.
According to the first man, this ex-soldier became the father he had been robbed of so long ago. The two urged each other spiritually, drew close to each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wives and children and practically became family.
My narration is brief and imperfect, but I hope you learn from this true story and I hope it touches you as deeply as it touched me.