Facebook, forgiveness and unexpected reconciliation

by | Feb 29, 2012 | Uncategorized

In the category of “Thank God for Social Media” Communicate Jesus website shares these two heart-warming stories of forgiveness have one element in common – Facebook.

1. Guantanamo guard forgiven by ex-inmates

Brandon Neely was a prison guard for the United States military at Guantanamo Bay. After leaving the military to become a police officer, Neely was “still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo…He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.” He got to know one of the prisoners (Ruhal Ahmed), and realised how much they had in common. It became clear that Ahmed wasn’t the fanatical terrorist all detainees were portrayed to be.

After his release, Neely’s guilt and shame prompted him to contact Shafiq Rasul – friend of Ahmed and fellow ex-Guantanamo detainee – on Facebook. He sent a message and acknowledged the wrong that had been done. The trio met in person at a studio on London earlier this year, and Neely was forgiven. Read more and watch the first meeting on the BBC.

2. Bank robber forgiven by teller

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so terrible and illegal. Five years ago, two young Australian men rob a bank in a U.S. ski village. The pair, nicknamed Dumb and Dumber, could not have done a better job at botching the robbery if they’d tried. This week, one of the bank robbers and the bank’s teller were interviewed (separately) on Australian Story – a weekly documentary about Australians. Details are revealed about the relationship between the victim and perpetrator since the robbery.

Incarcerated and overcome by guilt, Anthony Price wrote to the teller who he had traumatised in the attack, apologising for what he had done. The teller, Jessica Cole Gunther, explains what happens next:

“It wasn’t until this year I thought okay, he’s done his time, he apologised in the beginning and I’m at peace with it. I want to let him go. Everybody messes up, everybody does bad things and I’m not perfect either and I know how terrible it feels when all you want is somebody to forgive you for something that you did. Then this spring I decided why don’t I look for him on Facebook? So I typed in the name Anthony Prince and I wrote him a very short message.”

In her message she wrote the following:

“Thank you for the letter you sent me several years ago. I’m writing to say that I forgave you a long time ago. I always thought that you were so kind and so at the time I was quite shocked. I pray for you and hope you are well. Jessica.”

You can also read some of the responses viewers have posted (after the episode) on Jessica Cole Gunther’s Facebook page. The difficulty of forgiveness is readily acknowledged in a number of the messages, as is the value and power of forgiveness.

Wonderful stories of reconciliation and forgiveness, all made possible by Facebook. Thank God for social media!

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