This week FaithAction have been involved with the Beyond Forgiving Tour in association with Initiatives for Change UK.
The tour has brought to us two very remarkable individuals from South Africa: Ginn Fourie and Letlapa Mphahlele. Their story has been captured on film by Initiatives for Change UK; it is being screened in London this week and will be in other parts of the UK, in the following days.
Ginn lost her daughter Lyndie in the Heidelberg Tavern Massacre of 1993. Letlapa was director of operations for the liberation army who ordered the attack. Through a process of meetings, Ginn was able to forgive the man that ended her daughter’s life and Leltlapa, through accepting this forgiveness and expressing his remorse, has been able to renounce violence. Together, as friends, they tour the world to help people express their own stories and relay this message of forgiveness and reconciliation.
On Monday night, I attended a screening of the film at South Africa House with two of my colleagues, and this was the first time we had seen it. For me, the impact was huge. The raw grief and emotion Ginn expressed at her daughter’s passing was very evident. Letlapa’s surprise at her forgiveness further on in the story was described by him as a ’lightning bolt’ that he was not expecting. I was left with a feeling of hope and many of the people in the room were obviously moved. The emotion in the room was palpable.
The following day, Ginn & Letlapa visisted our young people at the Lifeline Institute. BBC South came to film the session and interview some of the students. The film was screened once more and we stood amazed as the students easily and quickly grasped the messages in the film. They coherently expressed how they felt after watching it and the IofC staff as well as Ginn & Leltapa were so impressed with the questions they asked in the Q&A session.
This was then followed by a round table discussion at Portcullis House, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith & Society, of which FaithAction is the secretariat. This was chaired by Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, along with National Executive Director of FaithAction Daniel Singleton. The attendees varied from a young Metropolitan Police Officer to a representative from the Prison Fellowship. A number of issues were covered, to do with restorative justice, the legacy of our ancestors and how our own stories of forgiveness can spark changes in our communities. We hope that this discussion will be a springboard for ideas on how we can practically see this film make a difference.
I leave you with a quote from Ginn Fourie from the film:
“I made a principled decision to give up my justifiable right to revenge.”
Could this be a concept that we use to spark change in our society?
The film can be seen here on Youtube, or at the Iniatives for Change UK site, along with more info: