The African sun beat down on the roof of the village schoolhouse in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As they waited for their teacher to come back from a meeting, twelve-year-old Pappy and his classmates heard a sound like approaching rain in the distance. Curious, Pappy went outside to investigate. But it wasn’t rain.
“Get back inside!” yelled his teacher, running toward the classroom. Suddenly bullets began hitting the walls and the roof of the school. The students scattered, screaming with fear. Looking back, Pappy saw that some of his friends had fallen in the fire of bullets. They didn’t get up again.
Pappy didn’t stop running. The rebels were recruiting children as young as seven years old for their army. It wasn’t safe for him to stay in his country. With two other boys he met along the way, Pappy began his long escape. Traveling on foot and by ferry, the three boys hid from rebel soldiers in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia, covering a distance of more than 4,150 km. After two long years, they finally found safety in South Africa.
Journey From Bitterness to Forgiveness
Speaking to 300 German teenagers at a Christian youth conference, Pappy told of the bitterness that took root in his heart as he remembered the horrors he’d seen in his country. He was haunted by images of his classmates being gunned down in front of him. But there came a point when he was convicted by Jesus’ command to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us (Romans 12:9-21).
“I realized I needed to forgive the soldiers who killed my friends, the men who raped my sister, the rebels who destroyed my country.” As he forgave, he was set free from the anger and hatred that had consumed him for so long. Speaking in a low voice filled with conviction, he continued, “You can’t move on with your life until you forgive.”
What is holding you back from full peace and freedom in Christ? Who do you need to forgive? Don’t let unforgiveness infect your spirit. Release your hurt and pain to Jesus and receive His healing. Jesus wants to set YOU free!
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1