The power of forgiveness to bring lasting peace


Kathy Headlee Miner recalled a time when she spoke to a group of people and received a manifestation that there was much pain in the group and many wounded hearts. On Thursday, Aug. 18, she told those at Campus Education Week at BYU that Heavenly Father was aware of their hearts and is ready with open arms to heal them.

“Oftentime forgiveness is counter-intuitive to our natural man,” said Sister Miner, founder/CEO of Mothers Without Borders. “We believe, in most parts, that in order for us to be safe, to be protected, is to remember hurt and remember the details and say, ‘I forgive you, but not really.’ “

Sister Miner said to forgive is a choice. She has traveled to many parts of the world to do development work in the poorest of countries. The dying and the sick, she said, have taught her.

She quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way. … I think it may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness.”

Sister Miner said it is up to members of the Church to keep pace with the violence, meanness, intolerance and hatred because “we are the ones the Lord is depending on to bring so much love into the world.”

She told a of the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda, people who were caught in the middle of a civil war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Ugandan government soldiers. Sister Miner said the war has been going on for 24 years and has displaced 1.6 million people and forced them into internally displaced persons camps.

“They did nothing wrong except to be in this part of the world,” she told the audience. The living conditions were horrible and hospital beds and floors were full with no anesthesia to help the wounded. These wounded would often include “night commuters.” Sister Miner said that at night the solders would light fires to the thatched roofs and while people were trying to extinguish the fires, the soldiers would abduct the children. To prevent this from happening, parents would send their children to outside towns and hospitals.

Sister Miner showed a picture of six young men who were at a rehabilitation camp run by Christians from Denmark.

“They loved these kids and taught them the word of God,” Sister Minder said. “I watched as these children came back to life again. It was a testimony how powerful the healing power of the Atonement is. If the power of the Atonement can heal them and everything they have experienced, if He can heal them, He can heal me and the things that have hurt me.”

She recalled that one boy had lost a leg and asked her why people in America didn’t care what was happening. She told him that most didn’t know. He replied that that could not be true because people were there with cameras all the time.

Then she repeated his words: “What about you? Did you just come here to take pictures or are you going to do something to help us?”

“I felt the nature of me just being one person,” she said. “I asked Heavenly Father to give me an extra measure of courage.” She told the young man that every time she spoke to groups, she would tell his story.

“Heavenly Father will guide and direct you as He has guided and directed me,” she said. “How does your being willing to forgive someone who has offended you, help Him?”

She told those in attendance that when they open their hearts and give more love, they are helping Him. She encouraged them to follow the admonition to be still and know and recognize God and say, “All right, You are in control here.”

Sister Miner also told the story of Christine, who was abducted at age 11. For 13 years her father would sit by the radio listening for names of children who had been rescued. Christine’s father was able to meet his daughter who was 24 and also his three grandchildren;;fter she had escaped, one child died.

Sister Miner told of how peace talks had begun between rebel forces and the Ugandan government. After all the crimes had been read against the LRA, the Acholi people at the peace talks said they wanted to offer amnesty to the army and welcome them back into the community, if the army would give up their arms and let the people return home. Officials told them amnesty could not be offered and the war continues.

“What would it take to forgive the men who had brutally abused your daughters?” asked Sister Miner. “What do they know that we don’t?”

A picture of a store was shown. On top of that store was a sign that read: “Jesus is the answer.” Sister Miner said forgiveness was in the hearts of the Acholi tribe. They came to know God in their extremities.

She told of a 12-year-old girl named Carol who Sister Miner suspected of having AIDS. Carol was taken to an orphan care center. Sister Miner prayed that the tests would come back negative but when they came back positive, Sister Miner was angry with Carol’s uncle. Carol noticed Sister Miner was unhappy and told her, “We have to forgive everyone. Jesus loves them too.”

“Read Matthew 5:43-44, next time you have trouble forgiving someone,” Sister Miner told the class. “Start praying for them as your beloved brother or sister. That person has simply forgotten how much they love you. When the veil is rent, we will remember with absolute clarity how much we love everyone. You can ask to have a remembrance of that now. You can ask that your heart be open and that you have a remembrance of how much you love the people that have hurt you.”

She said the quickest way to heal the heart is to open it and fill it with love and forgive. She counseled to class to not look back because that is when they refuse to forgive and it is an indication that they don’t really trust God.

“When someone offends, practice forgiving them with your whole heart,” Sister Miner advised. “The second you forgive, it has no power to hurt you. It makes you powerful. It puts you in control.”

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