Forgiveness is an easy concept to grasp at a theoretical level, but it’s often a much harder reality to put into action.
But one pastor’s recent reaction to vandals who lit his church on fire offers a lens into the importance of extending forgiveness even to those who have hurt us in the most profound ways.
The Rev. James Hall of Bible Baptist Church in Hartsville, South Carolina, told WPDE-TV that he has forgiven the people who torched his church and caused $100,000 in damages, even expressing that he has love for those responsible.
“I hope that I draw no bitterness in my heart, in my life against them, that I love them and I pray for them,” Hall told the outlet. “The church is in your heart really and man cannot destroy that.”
It’s quite a response, considering that the pastor, who has worked at the church for 45 years, revealed that the house of worship doesn’t have any insurance and will be relying on the kindness of donors to help fund repairs.
Hall said that the fire was ignited behind his desk chair and that it burned to the ceiling and into the auditorium. Despite not having the funds to rebuild, the pastor put his faith into action, telling WDPE that “God will supply.”
Photos from inside the church show extensive damage as well as soot all over the house of worship. Parishioners are reportedly now meeting in a gymnasium behind the church building.
“I can’t understand how somebody could be so wicked to try to destroy the Lord’s house,” Hall said.
A GoFundMe was launched to raise $30,000 to help the church; so far, that effort has brought in just over $2,000.
Police have arrested three people in connection with the fire.