Malachi 4:6 says, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
In Uganda fatherlessness is a huge issue. There many orphans and young people do not know who their father is. Consequently, they find it hard to relate to God as Father.
We shared a message of the Father’s heart while on a ministry trip there in 2012. During our second night of ministry, the local bishop wanted to chat about my message. His father left his family when he was five and have never seen his dad since.
I asked him whether he had ever forgiven his dad for abandoning his mom and the family. He said “No.” After all, since these situations were so common he never thought that there was anything wrong. That night, however, he chose to release forgiveness to his father by faith.
During another session we focused on John 13, where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. Initially, the pastor of that church was reluctant. So, I asked him to preach the message on John 13. He did an amazing job, and our team turned to washing the people’s feet. We sensed a great division among the people, but were not privy of the situation within the church.
Later, the pastor shared publicly, there was a man in the congregation who was dividing the church. Immediately, the man left the building in the middle of the service. As we washed the villager’s feet the heaviness turned to dancing and joy. They did not believe that foreigners would be willing to wash their bare feet. That simple act of service touched so many lives and we were actually very surprised by what God was doing in the midst of division.
In the evening the youth leader came to see me and asked my forgiveness for not wanting to work with us. When they witnessed that we were willing to wash the people’s feet they were drawn to repentance and decided to work with the Canadian ministry team. That too came as a surprise! When it was time to go to the next village that youth leader wanted to travel with us and support the work we were doing. God joined our hearts together and gave us one heart for the next village.
In the next village we continued to preach on the Father’s love and Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. With those local youth we were able to wash everyone’s feet with joy. This time the numbers swelled as the news about foreigners washing feet spread. Many of the villagers do not have shoes and the cracks on their feet were pretty big.
God began to bond our hearts. The youth began to share about their pain of not knowing who their father was. There were many tears and releasing of forgiveness to their fathers. Many stories began to emerge that brought tears to our eyes, and many wanted to go home to their families to make amends.
It is amazing to see how God moves when his children choose to forgive.
We left Uganda with our lives changed. We did not expect God to move in such powerful ways. After returning to Canada I received a call from the bishop. He was in tears and could barely speak. He said that his father, whom he has not seen in 45 years, just called to ask forgiveness for abandoning the family. The father said, “I love you” – words this grown church leader had not heard in his life.
I will never forget this experience of the power of forgiveness. It is amazing to see how God moves when his children choose to forgive.
Alvin Koh lives in Toronto, where he is involved in the work of MissionGTA. Photo of feet by ArtTower on Pixabay. This blog series is produced in collaboration with the WEA PRN. Read all the posts at faithtoday.ca/reconciling.