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In Communist Romania, churches were closed and pastors arrested as part of a seven-year drive to “eliminate the nations of all superstition.”

So when Brother Vasile and his wife began holding more church meetings in their little home, they knew it would not escape the attention of the government forever. Every evening Vasile prayed, “God, if you know of some prisoner who needs my help, send me back to jail.” His wife  shuddered while she mumbled a reluctant “amen.”

Then they learned that one of the church members’ homes had been raided and copies of Vasile’s sermons had been confiscated. They also learned that the assistant pastor, their friend and coworker, became an informant and had denounced Vasile.

It was 1:00 A.M. when the police raided the little apartment and placed Vasile under arrest. As they handcuffed him, Vasile said, “I won’t leave here peacefully unless you allow me a few minutes to embrace my wife.” The police reluctantly agreed. They would have their way soon enough.

The couple held each other, prayed, and sang with such emotion that even the captain was moved. Finally they escorted him out to a police van with Vasile’s wife tearfully running after them. Vasile turned and called out his last words before disappearing for many years, “Give all my love to our son and the pastor who denounced me.”

Extreme betrayal requires extreme forgiveness. If our enemies come against us with such ferocity, should we not be just as generous with our act of forgiveness? When our enemy stoops low enough to denounce us, ought we not reach higher to find the willingness to forgive them? Jesus taught us that forgiving evil is for our own good. Deep betrayal can cause us to close our hearts to our own experience of forgiveness. If you find yourself being stingy in the forgiveness department, you will experience a meager sense of release from your own sins. Being betrayed is bad enough. Becoming bitter is a defeat you cannot afford. To whom do you need to offer extravagant forgiveness today?

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

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