Sunday, 16 January 2022

Forgiveness allows people to change

ON Monday night I sat with others listening to the stories of people who have

ON Monday night I sat with others listening to the stories of people who have been helped by workers from a local charity.

Many in the room wiped back tears as they heard how these people’s lives had changed from quite negative lifestyles to new positive approaches to learning and work, resulting in productive lives.

For me it underlined the fact that people can change. Negative cycles can be broken and people can make positive choices which result in huge improvements in their lives and in the lives of many around them.

I have also recently been in contact with a couple who have been refused visitor’s entry to the UK, where the wife was born, grew up and worked for most of her life.

They aren’t allowed to visit together because more than 20 years ago the husband committed a serious crime in another nation. The man served his prison sentence, was pardoned by the president of the country he was from and now leads a large charity in an African nation.

We have a system in this country that if in the past you have committed a certain crime you are barred from visiting this nation. We have no room for considering whether a person has reformed or has changed.

At the heart of the Christian faith is a message which embraces forgiveness, acceptance and a conviction that people can change.

People have often said to me: “Once a drug addict, always a drug addict.”

I believe people, usually with the help of others, can walk away from old addictive habits and completely change.

There is a promise of power which comes from a loving God that anyone can access. It starts with forgiveness, where your past can be wiped clean and has the ability to bring about dramatic change in the way you live.

I’m a pastor of a church in Henley and one of my highlights each week is to join with usually more than 100 other people in enthusiastically singing songs to a God who loves to forgive and give new power to help us change.

Every one of these people needs forgiveness and has areas of their lives that need to change. Are we, in this town, people who can embrace forgiveness and an openness to the possibility of people changing?

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