Did you hear? It was a tragedy that shocked the nation.
On 1 Feb 2020, siblings Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, 9, and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, just one minute’s drive from the PeaceWise office in Parramatta, Sydney, were struck and killed instantly by an out-of-control ute that mounted a footpath where they were walking. At the time they were simply returning home from the local shops after purchasing ice creams on the hot summer’s day.
The driver, Samuel Davidson, who struck them, pleaded guilty to the seven charges laid against him in relation to this incident. At the time of the incident, it is alleged Mr Davidson had a blood alcohol limit three times over the legal limit. Court documents reported that he also had cocaine and MDMA in his system.
How would you respond?
I remembered this event when I read about it again on the anniversary of the tragedy this year. As a father of three children, I recalled the thoughts of 12 months earlier. The disbelief and horror of such an event. And like I am sure many others, the thought, “How as a parent, would you ever cope or respond to such a tragedy?” I also recalled the article that Bruce Burgess wrote for Peace it Together which reported Daniel and Leila Abdullah’s response – Forgiveness!
It was a response that amazed many and saw Bruce conclude his article with a prayer that included the words: “Please help us to learn to be people who forgive.”
12 months on, Danny and Leila Abdullah in memory of their children and niece, their 4 angels as they refer to them as, have launched a national “i4give Day”, (www.i4give.com). 1 February each year will now become a national day of forgiveness, in which they put forward the challenge to each of us to find someone we can forgive or ask forgiveness from.
Significantly, in sharing what has allowed them to respond in this way, Danny Abdullah in his speech launching i4give Day spoke of the choice that they faced:
“What path do I take, the path of destruction or the path of construction? Do I react and numb this pain or respond and face this pain?
I choose to respond. I chose to seek my refuge and my strength. I choose to obey my father in Heaven and forgive.
Many question, “Why don’t you blame God? But the truth is there is no other place to run to but God. He is the only one that can carry me through this.
My only mentor in these uncharted waters in Jesus. Jesus, our ultimate example for forgiveness. The one who suffered beyond measure but extends forgiveness to all.”
What an amazing example!
In Colossians 3:13 we read:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
To live as peacemakers is a challenge that we all face in every conflict. Whenever conflict emerges, we face a decision about how to respond to the hurt, disappointment and wrongs committed against us.
On the one hand, we can choose peace faking responses, that see us walk away from the relationship or simply deny the issues. On the other, we can choose peace breaking responses and seek after revenge.
Jesus’ instruction though is clear. Like Daniel and Leila Abdullah, we are to pursue peace making responses, which will include forgiveness.
But what does forgiveness look like in practice?
Ken Sande, in his book, The Peacemaker, puts forward the suggestion that the biblical picture of what forgiveness looks like in practice involves committing ourselves to four promises.
When we say the words, “I forgive you”, then we promise that …
- “I will not dwell on this incident.”
- “I will not bring up this incident.”
- “I will not talk to others about this incident.”
- “I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”
To read more about these promises, why not consider grabbing a copy of The Peacemaker by Ken Sande.
Better still, if you would like to learn more about what it means to live as a peacemaker in your relationships why not look at registering to be part of some of our upcoming national training events.
If you’ve never joined us before, begin with our one day Everyday Peacemaking course. It could help you save or restore a relationship, and will draw you closer to Jesus as well.
Written by Wayne Forward. Wayne currently serves as the National Relationships Manager for PeaceWise and as a Board Director. He has a background in Mental Health Nursing, Pastoral Ministry, Leadership Coaching and Missions, currently working with Pioneers of Australia. He is committed to helping people experience the gospel of reconciliation in their relationship with Jesus and each other and helps in the delivery of PeaceWise training and with mediations.