Forgiveness for a Thief
Here at MBI, we love hearing stories about how trusting in Jesus and responding in love and forgiveness in the face of challenge can radically change the outcome of lives. We’d like to share this beautiful story of God’s help and grace as told by DTS student, Christin Ingold, who took her training at YWAM Berlin in Germany and fulfilled her field assignment in Muizenberg/Capetown South Africa. (Mission Builders International supports YWAM Berlin and YWAM Muizenburg by sending volunteers.)
Yesterday was one of those days that showed me once more how precious and not-to-be-taken-for-granted life is. My friend Andrew and I were running at the beach. We were already on our way back when someone grabbed me by the shoulder and took hold of my shirt to stop me. As I turned around, I saw four guys, and in that moment, I already knew they were going to rob us. One of them held a knife, another one an empty bottle and one of them a long stick.
While Andrew stopped and came back to me, they took my phone and all the rings and earrings I was wearing. Andrew looked at one of the guys, who stood closest to him, and asked: “Can I pray for you?” Immediately, and for me unexpectedly, this guy responded: “Yes, I need it.” His eyes were empty, and the way he said it was so desperate. No hint of irony in his voice at all.
Andrew hugged him and held him while he was praying. I stood directly behind them, watching this guy’s face. He was obviously overwhelmed and touched by what just happened. As Andrew spoke forgiveness over him in prayer, this guy made eye contact with me and said: “I am so sorry. Please forgive me!” I already held his hand, as I had started to pray for him as well, but I pressed it even harder and said: “I forgive you. You are forgiven.”
The other three guys now were all standing with their backs to us. One of them came to me again, still wanting to take off one of my bracelets. As he grabbed my wrist, the guy who just received prayer, still in Andrew’s arms, reached out to his friend’s hand and pushed it away. There was change in his eyes, and God really broke my heart for him. I guess from this day on I’ll understand the story of the sinner hanging next to Jesus, taking the grace of forgiveness a little deeper and with personal attachment. Forgiveness is always there, but it needs humility to take it.
As Andrew and I got out of this situation, we fell down in the sand on our knees to pray. Only in this moment the awareness and reality hit me of what just happened … we were still alive. We weren’t raped or killed. This whole story could have had such a different ending. Both of us were able to stay calm and act in the opposite spirit, which wasn’t to our credit at all but only by God’s grace. That one of these four guys experienced God’s love deeply was so worth losing the phone.
I am thankful for my life once more, I am thankful for God’s protection and for my friend, Andrew, whose instinctive act of compassion calmed the whole situation down, me included. And I am thankful one more time for Jesus and the cross, which made this immediate forgiveness possible.
Can’t say it enough: God is good, more than we can imagine. All glory to him.
~ Christin Ingold, YWAM Berlin, Germany
on outreach in Muizenberg/Capetown, South Africa