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Editor's Viewpoint

Christian forgiveness of pastor whose father was murdered a lesson for us all when contemplating horrors of the past

Editor's Viewpoint


Pastor David Purse

Dealing with the legacy of the past is a complex problem. Take just one element of it - helping victims to gain closure. What does that mean?

Does it mean bringing to justice the terrorists who left them bereaved or maimed? Or does it mean identifying who was responsible for a terrorist incident and why they chose a certain person to kill or injure? Or is it the solution sought by Pastor David Purse whose father was shot dead by an IRA gunman? His father, also called David, was a reserve policeman and was murdered as he opened the gates at Seaview football stadium near the end of a match in 1980. His son, who was only 14 at the time, is now a senior pastor at Belfast Metropolitan Church which his father helped found.

In an amazing gesture of Christianity he has gone public with how he hopes to find closure.

He wants to meet the IRA men involved in the murder and tell them about God and his mercy and his forgiveness. He admits that after his father was killed he harboured thoughts of revenge - a completely natural reaction - but now he is not 'bitter but better.'

His reaction is not unique. Many people who have suffered grievously at the hand of terrorists have shown astonishing powers of forgiveness. They believe that seeking revenge or holding hate in their hearts will only destroy themselves, eating away at their lives and preventing them moving on to some sort of normality.

Pastor Purse, in a way, has thrown down a challenge to the terrorists. Sinn Fein has often said it would take part in any truth and reconciliation process. Here is an opportunity for one gang to meet someone they left bereaved and listen to him.

He doesn't seek an apology, doesn't even want to tell them the sort of man his father was. He merely wants to tell them about God's word in the hope that they could be saved.

That cannot be an easy thing for him to say, but it is true Christianity in action and a lesson for us all when contemplating the horrors of the past.

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