As We Also Have Forgiven

About 3 years ago, Sokresksa Himm was looking for me. He was my student in Canada when he enrolled at the Ontario Bible College in the 80s when I was the Vice President and Academic Dean (OBC is now Tyndale University College). He was one of the survivors of the “Killing Fields” in Cambodia where almost all his family members were killed. In his first book Tears of My Soul he chronicled his miraculous escape from the Khmer Rouge. He was literally delivered from the pit of death where he was spared only because they thought he was dead having been “executed” together with his family members and thrown into the pit.

“I am writing my second book,” he said, “and it will be about forgiveness. I was looking for you for a long time after you left Canada and I am glad that I finally found you. I would like you to write a Foreword for my book. I already have a title. It is going to be After the Heavy Rain.” The book was eventually published in 2007 and dedicated to the memory of 13 of his family members who were killed by the Khmer Rouge. It was used of God to minister to many. Let me share with you some of what I wrote in the Foreword: “The injustice done to Sokreaksa and is family is truly unmitigated, and yet he forgave in the way God has forgiven us. …the injustices done to many of us who have suffered betrayal and ingratitude in the micro-politics in our churches…pale into insignificance when compared to the magnitude of the injustices done to Sokreaksa and his family. …‘loving our enemies’ is never easy. To love our enemies implies that we have to forgive them first. Forgiveness liberates us to love. That unforgiveness imprisons our spirit is now a psychiatric fact. Unforgiveness is detrimental to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. When Sokreaksa, by faith chose to forgive, he found himself freed from the shackles of nightmares and fear. He found himself stepping out of existential darkness into the marvelous light of possibilities and potentials. He found the truth that forgiveness is not so much about liberating the forgiven, but that the forgiving person liberates himself. It is in this self-liberation that Sokreaksa finds healing for his pain. …We often think that forgiveness is given only to those who deserve it. Those who deserve it are those who apologize and seek forgiveness. Nothing can be further from the truth. If we only understand what the Lord Jesus has done for us, we will realize that none of us deserve God’s forgiveness. It is something given when we least deserve it. There is no way that the Khmer Rouge lackeys who committed such heinous crimes deserve Sokreaksa’s forgiveness. But he gave it anyway – it is his gift of grace in the name of Christ to those who killed his family.” My student did find the killers, and he publicly and formally forgave them. He then raised money and built a primary school for the kids in the village as a symbol of his goodwill. I concluded my Foreword with the following: “I started out thinking that I was writing this Foreword as a teacher of Sokreaksa. But at the end of the brief journey, I am penning this as an unworthy student of one who had suffered much…and yet forgave. My own [pain] are rather small and insignificant when compared to Sokreaksa’s, and I have yet to learn how to forgive. My personal struggles as a lawyer concerned for justice and a Christian desiring to be forgiving are even more intensified after reading [his] book. There is still much for me to learn from Sokreaksa about forgiveness. Perhaps, by God’s grace, I will be where he is in due course.” And it is my prayers that we will all be there, the sooner the better, for our own sake, and to the glory of God.