A few Sundays ago I shared the following story at the end of the sermon. I hope that it will be a refreshing story of reconciliation for you today:

My Great-Grandmother, who I called Nana, was born in Western Armenia in 1910. During WW1, the Ottoman Turks forcibly claimed this part of Armenia as their own and in the process, they systematically attempted to kill as many Armenians as possible. They succeeded in killing 1.5 million and it has become known as the Armenian Genocide. My Nana lived through the worst of it. She was sent out on what has been called “death marches,” where she saw countless people killed in front of her and others simply die of starvation and exhaustion. She told us terrible stories of having to hide from her tormentors among dead bodies, of learning to walk with a limp so that the lonely soldiers wouldn’t find her attractive, and all sorts of awful experiences. But through it all, she survived, but only to be kidnapped by a Turkish couple who treated her like a slave for years. The wife was especially cruel and made her do all of the housework while she did nothing. She told us stories about how she would be fed in crumbs. At one point, the Turkish government declared that the Armenian kids had to go to orphanages, and she was put in one run by German missionaries. There at that orphanage, she was told about Jesus. She was told about forgiveness. Because of the good news that she heard there in that orphanage, even after all of that chaos, she believed that she was the lucky one because she was forgiven.

Years later, after miraculously making it to the United States, getting married, and starting a family in Lowell, Massachusetts, an old woman knocked on her door. Sure enough, it was the same Turkish Woman who had abused her back in Turkey. Our family doesn’t know how she made it to the states and we have even less of an idea as to how or why she sought out my Nana, but she did. This time, the tables had turned, and she was the one who needed help. My Nana, Esther Chetakian, had pity on her. She found it in her heart to forgive this poor, pathetic woman. She forgave because she had been forgiven. And for the rest of that woman’s life, she supported her whenever she could. Not because the woman deserved it, but precisely because she didn’t. That’s just what Christians do because that is who we are… we are forgiven people who forgive people.

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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