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The Power of Forgiveness

ICC Note:

Another look at the grace and spirit of God moving in the aftermath of the attacks against Christian teenage girls in Indonesia in 2005 whose killers were sentenced just one month ago.

1/7/2008 Indonesia (ChristianPost) Last month, three Islamic extremists in Indonesia were sentenced to 19, 14 and 10 years in prison, respectively, for beheading three Christian teenage girls – Theresia Morangke, Yarni Sambue and Alfita Poliwo – and shooting two others non-fatally in 2005.

The men had attacked the girls as they walked to school in Poso district in Sulawesi. A fourth girl in the attack, Noviana Malewa, received serious injuries to her face and neck but survived.

After the murders of the teenage girls, their heads were wrapped in black plastic bags; one was left on the steps of a church in the nearby village of Kasiguncu and the other two near a police station five miles from Poso. The bags contained a note stating in part, “We will murder 100 more Christian teenagers and their heads will be presented as presents.”

I know when I read the first report of these senseless murders and the recent news of the unjust sentences, my blood boiled. Won’t some kind of revenge be in order in these cases, I thought.

But later I received news that Noviana, who will be scarred for life, along with two of the victims’ mothers had forgiven the killers. Let me share some of what they said. It really impacted me … and humbled me.

“It is hard to forgive what they did. Very hard. But the Lord taught us we need to forgive those who trespass against us, even those who tried to kill me. The verse that comes to mind is the one that says: ‘Love those who hate you … love your enemies.’

“Even up to now, I can still feel anger sometimes, but it helps me to pray for the killers. I pray that their hearts will be open to God, and that they would repent from their sins. And to never kill again.

“Someday when I have children, I will tell them the truth about what happened. But I will tell them even more about God’s grace in our lives that I experienced myself.”

Alfita’s Mother: “When I heard the news that my daughter and her friends had been killed, I immediately broke down into tears. Then I cried out to God, ‘Why? Why would you let my daughter be killed this way? So young …’

“There is always sorrow when you lose someone you love, but to have lost my daughter like this, it was almost too much to bear. All I could do is ask God for his peace…the peace that cannot be explained. The peace that comes from trusting in Him. And at the funeral, he gave me that peace. Even though Alfita was brutally killed, I knew that she was safe in God’s arms in heaven. And I took great comfort from God, knowing that one day, my daughter and I would be together again in the presence of Jesus. After that, when I knew God’s comfort in my heart, I was finally able to do as God commanded and forgive these killers.

Yanni’s Mother: “When I first heard that Yanni was dead, especially the way she was killed, I was broken. So I prayed to God for strength, or else I would not be able to go on. When I saw my daughter’s body the first thing I did was cry, and then I fell on her body, and I cried to her, ‘Yanni, my daughter, why have you left me? Why have you left your mother?’ Then I also asked God for strength because it was too much for me. I am much, much better now. I know it is because many people have prayed for me.

“I think of when Jesus was on the cross. And He saw those who put Him up there and He said, ‘Father please forgive them, they know not what they are doing.’ That verse helped me see that if my Lord can forgive those who put Him up on that cross, then I surely can forgive the men who killed my daughter because I want to be like Jesus.”

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