Saturday, 25 April 2015
Turkish Christians Travel to Armenia to Ask Forgiveness for Genocide
1915 saw the death throes of the Ottoman Empire. But before its demise, Turkish forces had caused the death of over a million Armenians, possible as many as 1.5 million.
Turkish authorities have vehemently disputed these figures and claimed that both Turks and Armenians suffered during World War I, which, of course, is technically correct.
Armenians have wanted revenge, and in the 1970s and 1980s some groups did exactly that by targeting and killing Turkish diplomats.
But now something very unexpected has happened: In early April, a group of over twenty Turkish Christians travelled to Yerevan, “to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness” as their spokesmen put it.
An Armenian TV news channel reported on the event. According to WorldWatch Monitor: “Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: ‘We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.’
Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples.”
While many Christians might be satisfied with merely singing about “the wonder-working pow’r in the blood of the Lamb,” these Turks and Armenians actually put Jesus’ teaching into effect:
“Asked what the reconciliation effort has really accomplished, one Turkish pastor said simply: “We want our fellow citizens, Turks and Armenians alike, to ask us: ‘What kind of God can bring two enemies together like this?’ ”
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the Apostle Paul writes that the Gospel is the power of God. He taught us to follow the example of Jesus, who through His humility and obedience did far more good than all the armies that have ever marched on Earth or all the teachers who have taught about goodness.
Earlier this spring, a 10-year old Iraqi Christian girl also followed Jesus’ teachings, saying she had forgiven her persecutors – the ISIS forces that drove her into exile.
The Gospel teaches us that light always overcomes darkness, and love overcomes hatred.
The Good Lord is above all a God of love who was willing to forgive His tormentors.
Baker, Barbara G. 2015. Overcoming a century of pain. WorldWatch Monitor (24 April).