The pain of losing a child is almost inconceivable to most of us. As parents, we are protectors and always want to keep our young ones safe. When the ultimate tragedy occurs, and a child is murdered, it evokes understandable reactions of revenge and anger.
But when East African missionary and church planter ‘Gabriel’ had his 3-year-old son’s life taken by a group of tribesmen, he chose the way forgiveness and grace. The story is staggering.
“Gabriel is an evangelist and church planter among the nomadic Turkana tribe in East Africa,” Galen Burkholder, the founder of mission organization Global Disciples, told God Reports. “One day, his 3-year old son was struggling to breathe so they rushed him to the nearest clinic.” It was a desperate situation, but it was about to get even worse.
“When the robbers saw Gabriel had no money, they grabbed the oxygen mask and tank from his son and ran!”
Doctors at the hospital determined that the young man required an oxygen tank to assist his breathing, and they sent the family on their way to the nearest town. Along the way, the family was ambushed by an enemy tribe who were notorious for their violent ways. The attempted robbery soon turned nasty. “When the robbers saw Gabriel had no money, they grabbed the oxygen mask and tank from his son and ran!” recounts Burkholder. The boy had no chance.
“Gabriel and his wife held their little boy as he gasped for breath—then died in their arms. Angry and distraught, they headed home to mourn and bury their precious son,” Burkholder recalls. A few months had passed when Gabriel heard some bewildering news from a local ministry leader—some of the tribesmen responsible for his son’s death had received Christ as their Lord.
Gabriel was invited to come and assist in outreach to the tribe. He struggled to even entertain the thought, as flashes of that fateful day raced through his mind. How could he possibly converse with these murderers, the men who took the life of his young son? Well, God had other plans.
Feeling convicted for his anger and resentful attitude, Gabriel agreed to go and meet the group. What happened next is nothing short of astonishing.
“Gabriel’s leader asked him to share his testimony. As he told the story of his son’s death, three men in the group stood,” Burkholder recounts.
“We are the ones who held you up on the road,” they confessed, putting throwing their arms in the air. “We deserve to die. There’s a gun in the corner. Get it and shoot us. We’re sorry.” But the Holy Spirit captured Gabriel’s heart and he felt an immediate rush of compassion running through his veins.
He stood up and looked each man in the eye. Then, he engaged in a dramatic gesture that demonstrated the love of God to these murderous men.
“He crossed the room extending forgiveness in the name of Jesus and embracing his three new brothers in Christ.”
An incredibly powerful moment as one can only imagine what this father was truly feeling when presented with that option, and one that can only be explained by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Check out the full story HERE.
(H/T: God Reports)