Death, drug-trafficking, and desolation – but none are a match for the transforming power of forgiveness. Today’s contribution by Andrea Gardiner reveals a story of new life, birthed by repentance and forgiveness.
Nine-year-old Jessica walked home from school to find her mother shot dead on the floor of their house in rural Ecuador. In the end, it was determined that her mum had died by suicide. Jessica’s father, Edwin, was a drug trafficker who made frequent trips to and from Colombia with the illegal substances.
As her father was a heavy drinker, Jessica could never be sure what state he would be in when he came home. Jessica was taken in by her aunt. But a year later, Jessica’s father had become a Christian, was attending church regularly, and had totally given up drink, drugs and smoking. He was working hard in the fields, raising pigs, finding work for teenage lads, and re-establishing a relationship with his first wife, Maria.
Maria had three sons with Edwin, but he had left her for Jessica’s mother. She had much to count against him; she had to bring their sons up alone, struggling to feed and clothe them without work. The eldest boy had left home to find work as a young teenager. But she, being a faithful member of her church, chose to forgive. She took him back into her home and they re-established their marriage. All their sons came home, and Jessica moved in with them.
Now, they are an example of a hard-working, community-spirited family. When you visit them, laughs, love and words of faith abound. People look at them and comment, “When I see the change in Edwin and his family, there is no way I can deny the existence of God. Only God can change a man and a family like that.”
I have had the privilege of witnessing this transformation. It is a transformation only forgiveness can bring. Theirs is a forgiveness which put the past in God’s hands and opened the way for reconciliation and renewal. There is no bitterness, only healing and a vibrant testimony of the power of the cross. It is truly breath-taking.
Andrea Gardiner has been a missionary working for Project Ecuador since 2005. You can find out more about the work in Ecuador on www.projectecuador.co.uk and read more about Edwin’s story in Guinea Pig for Brunch, available on Amazon.