My story not just like any other stories, it’s a unique one, for a unique event that has happened to me decades ago, but its resonance still resonates so far.
A Terrible Accident:
My name is James Owett Latancio, pastor of the Catholic Church, I was born in Yei city from the Acholi tribe, I was a pastor of Turkaka and Rukun territories, subsidiaries of the Catholic church eparchy; those were the days when a lot of displaced people came to Juba city, where they settled down in their camps close to the airport , most of those who came from our territory were seeking peace and quiet.
The situation stayed the same, till the 16th of September 1993 AD, I was driving a truck loaded with relief materials then, and I was in my way to Nyamini location; it lies around twenty miles to the west from Juba city, to offer some subsides to people in need whether Christians or any other religion, as we don’t distinguish in our donations.
On the way there, the front wheel was exposed to a landmine and the truck flew in the air, and I found myself outside the truck, and the rest of the passengers who were on board fell in different directions, and the residents of the neighboring village transferred us to Juba Hospital.
I stayed in the hospital for six months; my leg was broken and it was suspended for the entire period, and according to the lack of medical equipment in the hospital, the position of the fracture was opened without the use of anesthesia! And you can imagine the amount of pain that I felt during this operation.
After a few months, I started to move with the help of a crutch, and I was wondering: Why was that landmine put in my way? And how many vehicles had gone across that road? And why was the vehicle I was driving in particular exposed to that landmine?!
At the end of my days at the hospital, I was surprised by a guy in his thirties who came accompanied by his parents, although I never met him before. Then, when he entered the roomk, he asked his mother to ask me the permission to speak to me; so I asked the rest of the visitors to go out giving the young man some time to talk, I was amazed when he said: “Pastor, I’m the cause of what you’re going through now, and your broken leg and your pain”. And here the suspicious silence prevailed!
“But why did you do this?” I asked him.
“I’m married and I live with my children in the displaced people camp that you foster, but you didn’t give me enough food and you gave the others a whole sack, but you only gave me half a sack of food. So; when I learnt that you were on your way to Nyamini, and after many vehicles passed by, I placed the mine just before your vehicle arrived”, he replied.
On hearing the young man’s sudden words, I found myself yelling at him: “Now that I’m lying here in the hospital, you will not get a whole sack or even half a sack, people are starving to death, and I’m in pain here, and that’s all because of you.”
I saw a kind of dissatisfaction on the face of the young man, he seemed very upset, and then he replied:” O pastor, my conscience is not at ease at all, and if you didn’t forgive me, then I have no choice but to kill myself”.
Then the young man’s father said:” O pastor, you always preach us saying: when Jesus was on the cross, did he likewise respond to those who insulted him and crucified him? “. “No, he didn’t” I said. I immediately understood the father’s purpose from his words, and we all began to shed tears for half an hour or so.
The Prayer of forgiveness:
Afterwards, the young man came, he took my hand in his, and bent down on his knees, so I addressed him saying: “stand up on your feet, I know the significance of this pain, it’s because of my people in Korjik,Turkana, Tali or Roukun, or those who come from the south of Pariah or Liria, or from all the displaced people in Juba.”
Then, I said:” Son, forgiveness is very hard for me, but in the name of Jesus Christ I emptied my heart from all that, and also the pain in my leg is a little bit less, so I forgave you from all my heart”.
Thereafter, I called for the rest of the visitors who waited outside to pray together in the Pariah language, and there was a missionary with those visitors, and I informed him that the reason for these prayers is amnesty, I said: “ This young man confessed here today, that he was the one who placed the landmine in front of my vehicle, and that he was the cause of my current pain, but I have forgiven him, perhaps this accident is a test from the Lord for my faith”.
Then I prayed saying: “ O Lord Jesus, that mine could be a message from you, and you want to teach me how to forgive others, I have felt this, that’s why I have forgiven the person who harmed me”.
Today, that young man became in his fifties, and he lives in peace with his family and children, whenever he sees me he goes back in time, however; I would always say to him: “ don’t you ever feel guilty, for I have forgiven you since that day”.
As for me, I also realized that, The Lord Jesus Christ has brought me that hard experience to test my ability to forgive; it’s true that this is hard humanly, but with the power of the Lord we can forgive, even if I walk today on a disabled leg because of the old fracture, but I do not hold any grudge in my heart for the young man who has hurt me.
The message is for us all, as the sons and daughters of the same country, for we have all been born on the land of Southern Sudan, I was born in Yei, he was born in Lori Sumba, and the other was born in Renk, Malakal, Torit, Wau, Kajok, Or in various regions of the Sudan, if we don’t forgive each other today, who will forgive us tomorrow?
Even our fellow brothers, the Muslims, they talk a lot about forgiveness, and yet they fail to apply it; so, those who are responsible for the affairs of the Islamic Council, should exercise this forgiveness. As they say, God forgave what preceded.
My dear… Ask the power of forgiveness from God, forgive your brother in the army or in the police or any of the other forces, forgive no matter how much pain you suffered, or how much losses you had, the more you believe, the more forgiveness you will have, and make sure that with forgiveness, your conscience will return pure, and you will begin your true path with God, to accept His full forgiveness for your sins.