Recently we have been equally moved by the amazing grace shown by members and friends of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in the wake of the senseless massacre of nine of their leaders and loved ones.
The A.M.E. and Amish faith communities may seem very different from each other, but what they have in common is their allegiance to Jesus and their resulting commitment to love even their worst enemies. It is for this fundamental reason that they refuse to return evil for evil.
Many of us, in the face of such unthinkable injustice, would question the very existence of a loving God. How could an all-powerful and compassionate Creator allow such travesties?
On the other hand, how but for the grace of God could ordinary human beings respond with such good?
Here are some of the statements by members of families of those slain in Charleston, from the Washington Post:
Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance“I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
Relative of Myra Thompson“I would just like him to know that, to say the same thing that was just said: I forgive him and my family forgives him. But we would like him to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that He can change him and change your ways, so no matter what happens to you, you’ll be okay.”
Felicia Sanders, mother of Tywanza Sanders“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with welcome arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts and I’ll, I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. … May God have mercy on you.”
Wanda Simmons, granddaughter of Daniel Simmons“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win. And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”
Sister of DePayne Middleton Doctor“That was my sister, and I’d like to thank you on behalf of my family for not allowing hate to win. For me, I’m a work in progress. And I acknowledge that I am very angry. But one thing that DePayne always enjoined in our family … is she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”
Here's a link to another post on a forgiveness that is based on repentance as compared to a demonstration of Christ-like love for even the unrepentant, as in the case of the Amish and A.M.E. communities.