After a few months of visiting The Ark with Ashley Hewitt and the team, I felt convicted to share the message of forgiveness with the residents at The Ark. And my beautiful wife, Pat, encouraged me to share my story…
I shared my testimony with them, telling them about my experience of forgiving my father – how hard it was to forgive him, and to ask for forgiveness.
We had no father-son relationship – he was a very hard-hearted and violent man. He married my mom’s best friend and they moved to the Cape. We lost touch. Some years later my father had a massive heart attack and died. But the doctors managed to resuscitate him. His wife phoned me and asked me to come to the Cape to visit him. I refused and told her that I did not care. Sometime later, they returned to live in Durban. Shortly after their return, my father underwent a heart bypass operation. It was some months after this that I went to see him.
I had been attending a griefshare meeting with my mother, and the facilitator had asked if there was anyone who harboured feelings of unforgiveness. I admitted to a very strong feeling of unforgiveness. The facilitator asked me to say the Lord’s Prayer and she pointed out the importance that Jesus attaches to forgiveness – it was a lightbulb moment for me! I realised that I had to forgive my earthly father.
The next day I phoned him and arranged to visit. As I knocked at his door and waited for him to open it, I thought of running away. My father opened the door and welcomed me inside. I told him that I forgave him for everything, and asked him for forgiveness for what I had done. Jesus gave me a second chance – a chance to restore my relationship with my father.
The Lord was exceptionally gracious to me for forgiving. The reward was being set free of the burden of unforgiveness – that ‘heavy weight’ that I had carried on my shoulders. With my heart free of unforgiveness, Jesus would now listen to my prayers and forgive my sins.
After sharing my testimony, five of The Ark residents came up and spoke to me. They said that they needed to forgive as well as receive forgiveness. One of the men, “M”, was very resolute to change his life through forgiveness.
Whenever we visited The Ark he told me how he had progressed with visiting his parents, his girlfriend and his children. They in turn started to visit him at The Ark.
We continued to pray together and I encouraged him to have faith, read his Bible and pray every day. His greatest wish was to get a good job and get his children back into his life.
The CEO of the company where he was previously employed phoned him one day and went to visit him at The Ark. He offered “M” employment and ongoing mentorship. “M’s” father had his car serviced and new tyres fitted. His mother bought him new clothes and he was ready for work on the Monday.
On Sunday, the 16th of October, as I left Church, “M” walked up to me and greeted me. I was so happy to see him. He looked really good, relaxed and happy. He was filled with a deep sense of peace.
“M” now has his own flat in Pinetown and is settling down at work. He visits his children and his parents.
“M’s” friends at The Ark are inspired by his faith, forgiveness and all the blessings that he received. They are now working on forgiving and being forgiven with more faith and trust.
I am really grateful to Jesus for the conviction that he gave me to share my testimony at the Ark that evening.
“M” and I will continue to meet and I continue to advise and encourage the men at The Ark.
Thank you Jesus for your love and compassion.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1-2