Monday, July 05, 2004

by Philip Yancey

An exerpt from an e-mail I recieved.

Forgiveness in Russia

I saw a tremendous example of forgiveness in operation a little over a year ago when I went to Russia, which was at that time still the Soviet Union. I was privileged to be with a group of Christians, and we went and visited the headquarters of the KGB. The interpreter for that group was a Christian evangelist. He is Russian by birth, but his family had to leave when he was seven years old. They were chased out of the country. His uncle was killed. He had relatives who were put in a concentration camp.

Here was an older man who had his radio programs blocked for years, jammed by KGB jamming devices, who had his visas turned down for years. He couldn't visit Russia. Now he was translating for the number two man in the KGB, who was a ramrod-straight army colonel.

The KGB colonel went ahead and said, "Before there can be perestroika in our country, there has to be a stage of repentance. We have done many things wrong, and we must repent for them."

The interpreter, Alex Leonovich, who is a huge bear of a man, turned to him, broke his interpretation and said, "Colonel, Jesus told us how to respond when someone repents. In the name of Christ, in the name of my family, in the name of my uncle, I forgive you for what your organization did to me."

Then we saw the amazing scene of this big bear of a man, a Russian evangelist, reaching over to a ramrod-straight KGB colonel and embracing him in a huge, Russian bear hug. We could see whispers going on. We didn't know what they said until later when Alex told us. The KGB colonel said, "Alex, only two times in my life have I cried. Once was when my mother died and once was tonight."

Philip Yancey is a free-lance writer whose articles have appeared in 80 different publications, including Reader's Digest, National Wildlife, Saturday Evening Post, and The Christian Century. He writes a monthly column for Christianity Today magazine, where he serves as Editor at Large. Five of Philip's eleven books have won the Gold Medallion Award, including Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and Disappointment with God.

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