Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Forgiveness is Contagious

They say that in order to be an effective Bible translator, you not only have to translate the text, but you have to let the text translate you. Well, during our first term in Papua New Guinea, we had the opportunity to translate the following text,

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
– Mat 6:14-15 (ESV)

It is one thing to translate that text into Enga, it is quite another to live it out. During our first term in Papua New Guinea, we not only had the chance to see our Engan coworkers living out this text (see our Feb 2014 update), but the Lord challenged us to live it out as well (see our Sep 2014 and Feb 2015 updates). And after seeing our coworker forgive, we too were encouraged to forgive.

Sharing about forgiveness at a recent church service

Now, as we share about our experiences at different churches each Sunday, we talk about how the Lord challenged us to forgive those who had wronged us, and we encourage others to do the same. A couple of weeks ago after a service, the youth pastor came up to us and shared the following story about a high school senior I will call Mary (not her real name).

Mary has had a tough life due to the lack of a stable family environment. Her parents were divorced when she was very young and her mom received custody of all the kids. She went on to have three more children and none of those relationships lasted. Mary was abused physically, sexually, and verbally, and she will tell you to this day that it was all her fault because that was what she was told for thirteen years. Finally, when she was thirteen years old, the courts stepped in and gave custody of all the children to her father. It has been a very hard path the past four years. Mary has struggled with suicide attempts, depression, PTSD, and cutting, but she started faithfully coming to our youth group about a year and a half ago. She is seeking God but still feels as if she is not worthy of God's love. She came to me this past week after you spoke and said that the service was great. She started to tear up and said that when the service came to an end and you said, "If you need to forgive someone to please consider forgiving them," she felt God's presence and was lead to forgive her Mom. She knows that this will be a work in progress and that this hurt and pain will still be there, but she is on the road to forgiving, which is one of the largest steps a person can make towards having a stable life. We are still in prayer for Mary and her whole family. They still have a ton of work to do, and a lot of healing needs to take place, but it gives Mary hope to know that you were able to forgive a man who committed murder, burned down houses, and destroyed lives. She has started to see the hope that she has in God and is starting to understand that she is also worthy of God's forgiveness.

Praise God that He is working in Mary's life, and please join with us in prayer that the work He has started in Mary's life will be brought to completion according to His perfect will.