Seventy Times Seven

Radical forgiveness.

Luka T. Daniel, president of the Africa-Indian Ocean Division, tells the story of a Seventh-day Adventist pastor's wife. Spectrum, June 1996.

When the crisis began, a Hutu member of one of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in Rwanda killed his pastor and thought he had also killed the pastor's wife. The children ran for their lives. After the killers had left, the couple's 20-year-old son came back to see if the parents were still alive. He found his father dead. His mother also looked dead, but when he came to lift her, he could feel that she was still warm. He immediately called for help and rushed her to the hospital. Suf­fering from a deep gash in her forehead, for two weeks the pastor's wife remained in a coma. It took her months to fully recover.

Finally able to function, the pastor's wife went to the village market. There, she looked up and found herself eye-to-eye with the fellow Adventist who thought he had killed her. The man fell down, began rolling on the ground, and went into convulsions. Since it was in the middle of the market­place, a crowd quickly gathered.

The pastor's wife knew that if she showed the scar on her fore­head and accused the man, the crowd would kill him immediately. So, she told everyone, "Please don't touch him; don't touch him. He saw me, and since he thought I was dead [she didn't tell a lie!], he couldn't believe it. He must have gone into some kind of shock."

So the crowd helped the man to his feet, and took him to the woman's house. The man had torn his clothes, rolling around on the ground, and the pastor's wife gave him water to bathe himself. After he bathed, she took the shirt of her 20-year-old son, who had rescued her, and gave it to the man.

She told him, "I know you killed my husband and you attempted to kill me. God saved me. I will not be the one who will turn you in. I will not be the one who will call people to kill you. I just plead with you to make yourself right with your God. My husband is gone, and by the special grace of God I am alive. Now go away. I don't want anyone to hear that my husband's killer is in my house. They will come and kill you, and maybe kill me."

She also told the man, who had stopped going to church, "If I were you, I would make things right with my God. I have for­given you for killing my husband. You had better go and make things right with your God, and begin going to church again. Where you run to, go to church. Go and fellowship with the brethren."

I have seen this courageous, forgiving woman. The scar is still there. So is her voice, in the Shepherdess singing group. This, too, is Rwanda.

Editor's note: We are happy to report that the murderer was rebaptized after this encounter with a pastor's wife who knew the true meaning of forgiveness. Praise the Lord for such a woman.