From the service on December 18, 2011

 

Love of Enemies in South Africa

--First told by Stanley Green, CEO of Mennonite Mission Network, and

published in the Spring 2000 issue of Missions NOW 

Imagine this scene from a recent hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa: A frail black woman stands slowly to her feet. She is something over 70 years of age. Facing her from across the room are several white security police officers, one of whom, Mr. Van de Broek, has just been tried and found implicated in the brutal murders of both the woman's son and her husband some years before. She was made to witness her husband's death and hear his last words: "Father, forgive them."

And now the woman stands in the courtroom and listens to the confessions offered by Mr. Van der Broek. A member of Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission turns to her and asks, "So, what do you want? How should justice be done to this man who has so brutally destroyed your family?"

"I want three things," begins the old woman, calmly but confidently. "I want first to be taken to the place where my husband's body was burned so that I can gather up the dust and give his remains a decent burial."

She pauses, then continues. "My husband and son were my only family. I want, secondly, therefore, for Mr. Van der Broek to become my son. I would like for him to come twice a month to the ghetto and spend a day with me so that I can pour out to him whatever love I still have remaining with me."

"And, finally," she says, "I want a third thing. I would like Mr. Van der Broek to know that I offer him my forgiveness because Jesus Christ died to forgive. This was also the wish of my husband. And so, I would kindly ask someone to come to my side and lead me across the courtroom so that I can take Mr. Van der Broek in my arms, embrace him, and let him know that he is truly forgiven." As the court assistants come to lead the elderly woman across the room, Mr. Van der Broek, overwhelmed by what he has just heard, faints. And as he does, those in the courtroom: friends, family, neighbors--all victims of decades of oppression and injustice--begin to sing, softly, but assuredly, "amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."