The families of 17 missionaries and their families (including five children) who were kidnapped in Haiti by the violent 400 Mawozo gang have recently issued statements on the website of Christian Aid Ministries that they have chosen to forgive the gang for the kidnapping.
This follows on the heels of a video released on Oct 22, 2021 by the gang’s leader, Wilson Joseph, who goes by the name of ‘Death without Days,’ where he stated that every one of them would be killed if his ransom demand of $1 million each was not met. He said, “I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans.”
Several of the family members have since responded that they have chosen to forgive the kidnappers, with some stating they are in fact praying for the salvation of the gang members:
- “We are interested in the salvation of these men, and we love them.” Parent of one of the hostages.”
- As a family, we are giving forgiveness to these men. We are not holding anything against them.” Another parent of a hostage.
Perhaps one of the hardest messages that Jesus had for His followers involved our treatment of enemies.
As Jesus explained, it is easy to love those who love you, but the Lord said we need to treat our enemies in the same way we treat our friends:
- Love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-44),
- Pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44),
- Bless those who cursed you (Luke 6:28), and
- Do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27).
This is so contrary to how a person would normally respond in these type of situations. But then Jesus adds, that if we don’t forgive, and this includes our enemies, then God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15).
The Bible is very clear that God loved and forgave us, even though we were enemies to God.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)
I wonder if our refusal to forgive others suggests that we don’t fully understand what God did for us and in ways that we don’t understand is in fact a rejection of God’s forgiveness.
I remember several years back, my wife and I were out for lunch after Sunday service with the pastor of the church. We were having a friendly conversation, when suddenly the pastor was distracted by a couple having lunch on the other side of the restaurant.
They had left the church a few months earlier, but not without first making some nasty comments about the pastor as they were departing, and then continued to spread lies after they left.
It had become a difficult and hurtful situation.
As the couple was finishing their meal, the pastor suddenly stood up and went over to their table and started talking to them. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but there was an awkwardness to it.
They talked for a few minutes, and then the pastor casually picked up their bill and went to the cashier and paid for their meal.
I have no idea if this generous act changed that couple, but they never returned to the church.
But this act was never about the other couple, it was what the pastor needed to do. It was his heart that needed healing, and that could only come by forgiving.