The Life Transforming Power of Forgiveness

The story of Ray and Vi Donovan is remarkable. In 2001 their son, Chris, was murdered. Chris and his brother Phil were attacked by a gang of youths. They kicked and stamped on Chris’s head and left him in the middle of a four-lane road. A car came over the hill and ran over Chris, dragging him 40 feet down the road. At the hospital the doctors were unable to save Chris’s life.

Vi’s immediate response was to run out of the door. She was very angry and wanted to find her son’s killers and to “do to them what they had done to Chris.” Ray fell to his knees screaming. Three teenage boys were found guilty of Chris’s murder. During the court case Vi remembers the look of pain and shame etched on the faces of the boys’ parents. She realised that everyone had lost; things would never be the same for any of them.

Several years later, one of the young men contacted Ray and Vi asking to meet them to say sorry. A meeting was not allowed at that time, but Ray and Vi wrote to all three young men telling them that they had forgiven them and that they hoped to meet them one day. In July 2011, after the young man had completed his sentence, a meeting was arranged.

Ray and Vi had many questions including why he had left Chris in the middle of a busy road. He told them he had heard sirens and thought the police were coming so ran away. He said that he had been a fifteen year old coward and now he couldn’t get Chris out of his heart. Ray and Vi hugged him and said he was forgiven. He whispered his thanks. Ray said, “My wife and I left that meeting feeling like a weight had been lifted. Just hearing the words ‘I’m sorry’ is a start to moving forward. For us it was a life changing event.”

Saying “Sorry” is something we all find very difficult, but forgiveness is a very powerful thing. Jesus was a young man who was unjustly executed. When he was nailed to the cross he prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Since that time millions of people, from many nations, have honestly faced up to their sinful lives. As they have come to God through Jesus they have experienced his forgiveness. It is always a life changing event.