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Reconciling the World Through Painful Stories

New network focuses on showing how God heals racial, denominational, and gender divisions.
1999This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

The bomb that exploded in Brighton, England, on October 12, 1984, targeted then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Instead, it blew Harvey Thomas through the roof of his southern England hotel.

Left dangling on girders, he survived. Five of his friends did not. For years, Thomas, Thatcher's former public relations spokesperson, struggled with bitterness toward the Irish Republican Army.

But Thomas now plans to send letters of forgiveness to IRA leader Gerry Adams and those jailed for the attack. "I thought I should see if I can open a door of Christian communication [that] the Lord can use," the international consultant told CT. "The Lord put it strongly on my heart."

Promise Keepers vice president Raleigh Washington shares a similar story about a visit to a predominantly white U.S. church. Though challenging the congregation to cross racial boundaries, he first accepted responsibility for violence perpetrated by African Americans. Afterward, a 22-year-old woman revealed that she had been raped six months earlier by a black man who "beat the rap." Though she had forgiven him, she had been unable to sleep.

"Nobody took responsibility," Washington says. "But at the moment I said I take responsibility as a black man for rape and murder, God gave her healing instantly. She held me and wept for three or four minutes."

The power of sharing such testimonies before international audiences drives Reconciliation Networks of the World (RNOW). The nascent, all-volunteer organization held its second conference in November in Louisville, Kentucky.

Around 800 attended, twice as many as at last year's inaugural gathering in England (CT, Oct. 27, 1997, p. 106).

As organizers plan for the next conference, in Boston in 2000, they believe the ...

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