Saturday, July 27, 2013

Widow forgives husband's killers

You may remember Alan Greaves, the 68-year-old church organist from Sheffield beaten to death as he walked to a church service on Christmas Eve.

His widow Maureen told this story at her church on the Sunday after her husband died:
In the midst of our deep grief, I was sitting in the [hospital] waiting room and a lady came in, and it irritated me, because I wanted to be by myself. I suddenly looked at her and thought "She's grieving like me." So I went over to her, and I said "What's wrong?"
She said "My husband's got a brain tumour."
I said "How are you feeling about that?"

She said "I don't believe in a God at all that could allow this to happen."

God gave me a wonderful moment, when I was able to say that "I believe in a God, because at Christmas time He sent us a Saviour, and He can be your Saviour too through all of the grief that you're going through."

Later on she got her results for her husband, and it was a benign tumour. She came to me and she hugged me. She said "I'll leave this place thinking about the fact that there's a Saviour of this world."
And for me that was a great joy in the midst of my pain, because Alan only died a few hours later.
At her husband's funeral, Mrs Greaves said she had decided to forgive the two men who were responsible for his death, as it was what her husband would have wanted: 
It has to be a daily act of saying "I place them in your hands, God," so that I don't have to worry about them. I don't have to hate them. After the massive shock and heartbreak, this was probably the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. . . I have to do it every day so I don't lapse. It's not an easy journey to look two men in the face who have killed the person you love most in the world.

One thing I have comforted myself with is that the God I believe in had a Son who was beaten as Alan was beaten. The God I believe in was resurrected as I believe Alan will be resurrected.
Last week as Ashley Foster was found guilty of manslaughter - Jonathan Bowling had already pleaded guilty to murder - Mrs Greaves wept in the public gallery. Foster was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment and Bowling was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years.

After the hearing Mrs Greaves said:

Alan was a man who was driven by love and compassion and he would not want any of us to hold on to feelings of hate and unforgiveness. So in honour of Alan and in honour of the God we both love, my prayer is that this story doesn’t end today. 

My prayer is that Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster will come to understand and experience the love and kindness of the God who made them in His own image and that God’s great mercy will inspire both of them to true repentance.

She added:  "I am so truly thankful to have loved and been loved by Alan. I am so proud of the man he was and of the life he lived."

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