BEYOND FORGIVING (Film and discussion)
Wednesday 3rd August 2016
SUMMARY of mtg. 5th June 2016
We had a good turn out to watch the short film made in South Africa called "BEYOND FORGIVING". The executive producer HOWARD GRACE led us in a discussion, which was so good it went on beyond our normal finishing time.
The film is about a white Christian woman Ginn Fourie and a black atheist man Letlapa Mphahlele. Letlapa was a fighter against Apartheid and under his orders in 1993 people are killed including Ginn's daughter, Lyndi. Before this event Ginn had decided that she would do all she could to extend God's grace to each person she met. Afterwards, she struggled to work out what to do, but in 1997 the Truth & Reconciliation Commission provided an opportunity to discover who the killers were. In 2002, she was able to meet with Letlapa.
She first asked him "Do you believe in God ?"; he said no.
Then she asked him "Do you believe in spirituality ?"; he said yes.
That made her feel she could start a conversation; she discovered he was not full of evil and said she forgave him. He was shocked, but felt a new world opening up. He describes it as a lightning strike from a blue sky.
Ginn and Letlapa formed the Lyndi Fourie Foundation, which works to bring healing between communities and people who are in conflict in various parts of the world.
It is impossible to summarise the discussion. The first question was what this film has to do with Jesus; to which the answer is Jesus' words on the cross about forgiveness. We questioned the statement made by Ginn that everyone needs forgiveness. We also heard that Howard and a Muslim friend of his have been visiting schools around the country telling this and other stories. In sixth forms some young people have asked perceptive questions that express a variety of reactions.
For me, one broad insight is the nature of faith; Ginn is turned off by religiosity but believes in God as a living reality; Letlapa is an atheist, yet firmly believes in spirituality and the need for people to be healed. He says South African society is still in a state of soul sickness.
There is also the politics. Ginn says forgiveness begins with oneself and Letlapa says everyone has burdens and need a channel to tell their stories. But improved community relations are also needed, together with a vital part played by government and even change in the laws.
(Nigel Jones, June' 16)