Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) was a Dutch Christian whose family rescued Jews during World War II. They were betrayed and arrested. Corrie and her sister Betsy were sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Betsy died there, but Corrie’s life was spared. Several years after the war, she was speaking on the subject of forgiveness at a Christian meeting. After the meeting, one of her former prison guards appeared out of the crowd and approached her. Here he was, with his hand outstretched to her: “Will you forgive me?” The sufferings he had inflicted were real. Corrie’s anguish was not her own hyper-sensitivity. The wrong was monstrous. And now he’s asking, “Will you forgive me?” Corrie wrote:
“I stood there with coldness clutching my heart . . . . I prayed, ‘Jesus, help me!’ Woodenly, mechanically I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me, and I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arms and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother,’ I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard, the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God so intensely as I did in that moment.”
Cf. Philip D. Douglass, “The Power of Forgiveness,” Covenant Magazine, February/March 1999, pages 8-9.