Editorial: “I have forgiven”

19 July 2022

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“I have forgiven those behind these killings and abduction. Also, I have accepted the will of God.”

These were the words of a Nigerian mother of three, whose two sons were murdered, whose daughter was being held by bandits, and whose husband was still in hospital recovering from his injuries.

The words demonstrate a Christ-like grace and humble faith that serve as a beautiful Gospel light amidst darkness and evil.

Mrs Umaru, second from left, has chosen to forgive those who murdered her sons, injured her husband and abducted her daughter

Violence against Christians in Nigeria continues unabated. Each week we read of abductions, murders, mass killings. “In our country,” said one church leader in Kaduna State, “death has become a daily meal.”

Just a few weeks ago that dreadful meal came to the home of Pastor Daniel Umaru in Adamawa State. Armed men shot him and his sons – Fanye, 23, and Kefrey, 19 – and broke into his house. Pastor Umaru was badly injured. Fanye and Kefrey died where they lay.

Pastor Umaru’s wife collapsed in shock, and was later taken to the hospital. The home invaders kidnapped the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Ijagla. Thankfully, Mrs Umaru has recovered, and Ijagla has been released.

When we read of such wickedness, it is right that we are horrified. Yet we are also called to show forgiveness to our enemies, as did Christ on the cross (Luke 23:34).

We must also continue to place our faith in God, whose revealed will is that His people will continue to face suffering and persecution for “a little longer” (Revelation 6:11).

Mrs Umaru’s heart of forgiveness and faith – “I have accepted the will of God” – is an example to us all.

If a grieving mother can – speaking at her sons’ funeral – forgive the men who killed them, injured her husband and at that point still held her daughter captive, then there is no reason why we cannot pray for the perpetrators of anti-Christian violence, as it is God’s will that we do.

“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-5)

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