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What happens when you forgive

"When we hold bitterness in our hearts, it destroys us," I said. "We have to learn to forgive people no matter how badly they hurt us."

My gaze traveled across the weathered faces of the villagers.

For a moment, my eyes connected with Pastor Nathan's. All week, he had taken us from village to village across his home country of Papua New Guinea. He'd helped us spread this message of forgiveness. I wondered if he was weary of hearing it by now.

"If you have someone you need to forgive," I continued, "do it now. We can pray with you to help you forgive."

Across the room, many people stood. They pressed forward to pray with us, eager to release the anger and hurt they held in their hearts. I knew from my own experience that as they did this, healing could begin.

Several days later, I learned that Pastor Nathan hadn't been bored with our message. In fact, it was a message he needed to hear. After hearing our message on forgiveness, he sought out a person who had hurt him and his family--a church elder who had gotten his niece pregnant.

He found the man in a public marketplace and pulled him aside to speak with him. With tears flowing down his face, Pastor Nathan forgave him. The two men embraced and began to repair their relationship.

Forgiveness isn't easy. It doesn't mean that what the person did to you -- or to someone you love -- wasn't wrong. Unforgiveness hurts no one else but you. So forgive. Keep on forgiving. That's how you heal. That's how you move forward.

by Maddie on DTS Outreach in Papua New Guinea. Photo from YWAM Medical Ships Australia.

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