Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful and powerful concepts and a central theme of Christianity. “The Redemption of Henry Myers,” now streaming online at PureFlix.com is a story of a family forgiving the unthinkable. This Western family adventure movie is both fun and profound, and although the story is fictional, it is a great example of the power of forgiveness. But real-life stories of forgiveness have the power to inspire us to “turn the other cheek,” love radically, and live like Jesus.
Here are some of the most extreme stories of radical forgiveness that you won’t forget:
A Widower Forgives
In October 2006, after a long shift at the fire department, 20-year-old Matt Swatzell fell asleep while driving and crashed into another vehicle. He awoke to “the most God awful sound” he had ever heard, realizing he had crashed into June Fitzgerald, who was pregnant and with her 19 month old daughter Faith. Faith survived the crash, but June and her unborn child did not.
According to Today, Fitzgerald’s husband, a full-time pastor, asked for the man’s diminished sentence, saying, “You forgive as you’ve been forgiven.” He meets with Swatzell regularly and their friendship continues years later.
Healing of Rwanda
During the Rwandan genocide in the mid nineties, the entire family of a woman named Immaculle Ilibagiza was murdered in a massacre. Immaculee chose to forgive the people behind the death of her family and went on to write a best selling book entitled “Left to Tell.” She founded the Left to Tell Charitable Fund in order to help children who have been orphaned due to genocide.
Rwanda’s history was marred by tragic cultural genocide, yet decades later, healing and reconciliation have begun throughout the country. This is an incredible reminder of the power of forgiveness to heal not only individuals, but communities.
A Chemistry Teacher in Libya
According to Family Share, “Anita Smith and her husband Ronnie moved to Libya because, "We saw the suffering of the Libyan people, but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future," Anita said in a letter published on VergeNetwork.org. Ronnie was a chemistry teacher in a Benghazi school.”
On Dec. 5, 2013, Ronnie was shot and killed by an unknown gunman during his morning run. Anita addressed her husband's attacker in her letter, saying, "I love you and forgive you. How could I not? For Jesus taught us to 'love our enemies' — not to kill them or seek revenge."
Forgiving an Unfaithful Spouse
One fateful day, Christy Jones received an email from a woman she had never met. "You don't know me, but I am no longer dating your husband ... I'm sorry for any pain I caused your family," the email read.
"I felt paralyzed," Christy told RealSimple.com. She called her husband at work, and he eventually admitted it was true. He had carried on a four-month affair with a woman he had met at work.
"Forgiving him was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Christy. "But his honesty made it easier." The two later went on to renew their wedding vows, and Christy said that today, "Our marriage is stronger for it. I have no regrets."
A Child Forgives his Mother’s Killer
When Didier was 11 years old, he witnessed his mother, a street vendor in Colombia, shot 38 times. This drama led him down a path of alcohol, drugs, and crime as he struggled with what he had witnessed. Didier found out who his mother’s killer was and intended to retaliate, but after a friend brought him to church, changed his mind. Instead, he forgave his mother’s murder.
One day, he thought he saw the man sitting on a street corner and approached him. Didier embraced the man and told him he had forgiven him. Read the rest of Didier’s story in Psychology Today.
Although the world can seem dark at times, it is comforting to know that stories of powerful forgiveness are not so uncommon. You can find stories on Quora and the PureFlix Facebook page, for example, that will touch you deeply. Lewis B. Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
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Sarah Hartland knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she wrote her first short story in the fourth grade. By the time she was in high school, she had written two novellas and countless short stories. It was her love of storytelling that led her into marketing and media.
Sarah freelanced throughout her time at Colorado Christian University, where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. At CCU, Sarah competed in speech and debate across the country, securing multiple awards and a national debate championship. She co-lead CCU's first-ever broadcast media program, CCU.TV, and served as the program's Student Producer during her senior year.
When she's not writing blog posts or editing a video, Sarah loves to swing dance, ski, travel, or visit her seven younger siblings in Montana.