Great-great-grandson of Wounded Knee commander asks for forgiveness

Great-great-grandson of Wounded Knee commander asks for forgiveness
By Brendan O’Brien and Stephanie Keith

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (Reuters) – For the last 50 years, Bradley Upton has prayed for forgiveness as he has carried the burden of one of the most horrific events in U.S. history against Native Americans, one that was perpetrated by James Forsyth, his great-great-grandfather.

Forsyth commanded the 7th Cavalry during the Wounded Knee Massacre on Dec. 29, 1890, when U.S. troops killed more than 250 unarmed Oglala Lakota men, women and children, a piece of family history that has haunted the Colorado man since he was a teenager.

This week Upton, 67, finally got an opportunity to express his contrition and formally apologize for the atrocities carried out by Forsyth to the direct descendants of the victims at their home on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

“The response has been unbelievable … very positive and very touching,” Upton said as he wept during a phone interview with Reuters. “Love is divine and forgiveness is divine.”

The Lakota people “are extraordinary people. They are so wise and beautiful,” added the professional musician, who made the nine-hour trip from his home to the reservation.

During an event on Wednesday on the reservation, Emanuel Red Bear, a teacher and spiritual advisor, told descendants that they deserve Upton’s apology.

“Only one man had a conscience enough to come here to ask for forgiveness for what his great grandpa did,” he said. “There needs to be more.”

Upton’s journey to forgiveness began when his great uncle sent him photographs of the carnage when he was 16 years old.

“I knew immediately that it was wrong,” he said. “I felt a deep sadness and shame.”

Two years later, Upton became a student of a Buddhist mediation master.

“I prayed for the next 50 years for forgiveness and healing for all of the people involved, but particularly because my ancestors caused this massacre, I felt incredible heaviness,” he said.

Upton believes that the impact of the massacre can be seen throughout his family tree, which has been plagued by alcoholism, abuse and betrayal.

A year ago, a neighbor’s friend got Upton in contact with Basil Brave Heart, a Lakota elder. Brave Heart has worked on similar healing ceremonies and assisted Upton over the following year.

Deeply profound similarities exist between Buddhism and the beliefs of the Lakota people, who pray for “all my relations,” Upton said.

“Which means all of us have always been completely related. We have always been family, every being in the world has always been related from the beginning of time,” he said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Gospel Singer Shares Message Of Love On Charleston Shooter’s Facebook Profile

Marcus Stanley, a victim of gun violence, showed the world a message of grace and forgiveness in a Facebook comment that has gone viral.

“I love you Dylann… even in the midst of the darkness and pain you’ve caused.”

The Facebook comment was found on the barren profile of Dylann Storm Roof, the suspect of the Charleston shooting. Stanley posted the message before Roof was captured Thursday morning in hopes that he would see it.

“I don’t look at you with the eyes of hatred, or judge you by your appearance or race, but I look at you as a human being that made a horrible decision to take the lives of 9 living & breathing people,” Stanley, a 30-year-old gospel singer, wrote on Roof’s Facebook. “Children do not grow up with hatred in their hearts. In this world we are born color blind. Somewhere along the line, you were taught to hate people that are not like you, and that is truly tragic.”

In 2004, Stanley was shot eight times by a gang during an initiation rite on the streets of Baltimore. CBN News reported that he had lost feeling in his right hand. A few months later, he turned to God and was able to forgive the man that pulled the trigger, according to his Facebook page.

Stanley even encouraged the young man to accept Jesus into his heart and be forgiven.

“Give your heart to Jesus and confess your sins with a heart of forgiveness. He is the only one that can save your soul and forgive you for the terrible act that you have done. I love you Dylann…but more importantly HE loves you.”

Marveled by Stanley’s compassion for Roof, other Facebook users have shared the post nearly 28,000 times.

Tennessee Pastor Forgives Man Who Murdered His Father

A Tennessee pastor is showing the true meaning of forgiveness and grace by forgiving the man who murdered his father 30 years ago.

Ron Hammer gunned down Wayne Robinson outside a Tennessee grocery store in 1986.  On Sunday, Hammer joined pastor Philip Robinson via Skype to talk about his conversion to Christ.  Hammer told New Vision Life Baptist Church that the forgiveness of Pastor Robinson “changed his life.”

“I gave my life to Christ in October of 1996, but I’ve never really received the full blessings that Christ wanted me to have until one day He whispered and told me, ‘Well, you haven’t confessed to the Robinson family.’ And I sat and wrote a letter to Mrs. Robinson (pastor’s mother) and it was 20 years after the crime had taken place. And I told [her] how I had taken your father’s life and how it was an accident and that I never meant to hurt anyone,” said Hammer to Robinson before his congregation on Sunday

Hammer had denied being the gunman for years.

Originally Robinson admitted he had trouble forgiving Hammer.

“I wanted them to pay the full price for their crime,” said Robinson. “A great deal of my life was hanging on their conviction. It felt that way. I figured they would do it again.”

When Hammer reached out 13 years later, Robinson found a path to forgiveness, sending a letter to Hammer that was life changing.

“That letter from you, Phillip, truly touched me,” Hammer told the pastor in front of his congregation. “The words of wisdom and what God had planted in your heart to tell me changed my life that day. I’m so blessed by the forgiveness that you have given me.”

Robinson and his mother even testified in favor of Hammer at a parole hearing that resulted in his release from prison in March.

Pastor Who Lost Both Sons In Car Wreck Forgives Driver Who Caused Wreck

A North Carolina pastor who lost both of his baby sons in a car accident said that he and his wife have forgiven the man who caused the accident.

Pastor Gentry Eddings of Forest Hill Church in Charlotte was driving home in a car separate from his pregnant wife Hadley and his two year old son Dobbs.  The car driven by Hadley was struck from behind by a box truck driven by 28-year-old Matthew Deans.

Dobbs died in the accident.  Their other son, Reed, was delivered via emergency C-section but died two days later.

Deans has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and a count of failure to reduce speed.

“We have, in our hearts, forgiven the man who did this,” Eddings proclaimed at the funeral for his sons. “It was not the easiest thing to do, but in some ways it was because we know — Hadley and I — that Jesus Christ has forgiven us our debt. … So in some ways, it was very easy to forgive a man who made an accident.”

Members of the congregation set up a fund to pay for the funeral expenses and raised almost $200,000 in nine days to help the family.

The pastor and his wife’s choosing to forgive and show Christ to the driver has also made waves in the secular world, with magazines such as People featuring the couple and their hard choice.

Displaced Iraqi Christian Girl Asks God To “Forgive ISIS”

She had to flee her home when ISIS began an invasion and now lives in an unfinished mall in northern Iraq.

Yet little Myriam is thanking God for a place to live and her heart is full of forgiveness for those who destroyed her old life and killed dozens of her friends.

An Arabic Christian network interviewed children living in the Ainkawa Mall’s refugee camp about their lives since they had to flee ISIS.

“We used to have a house and were entertained, where as here we are not,” Myriam said. “But thank God. God provides for us.”

“God loves us and wouldn’t let ISIS kill us,” she explained.

The reporter covering the story asked Myriam what she would do if she had the power to take action against the terrorists that destroyed her home.

“I won’t do anything to them,” Myriam asserted. “I will only ask God to forgive them.”

Other children told the reporter they missed their schools and their churches.  All of them made similar statement: “Jesus will be with us no matter where we go.”

Seattle Pacific University Hero: “God’s Grace” Saved Lives

The 22-year-old engineering student who disarmed a gunman bent on mass killing at Seattle Pacific University has broken his silence after the event, saying that God’s grace is what saved the lives of others.

Jon Meis, a building monitor at the Christian university, pepper-sprayed and then tackled 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra as he was reloading.  Other students then held down Ybarra, who was not a student at the school, until police arrived on the scene.  Police said that the gunman had a significant amount of ammunition on him and likely would have killed and wounded dozens more without Meis’ heroic actions.

“He was hellbent on killing a lot of people today,” an officer told the Seattle Times.

Meis, who had been avoiding the spotlight after the incident, finally released a statement to the press.

“I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested, I find this hard to accept,” Meis wrote. “I am indeed a quiet and private individual; while I have imagined what it would be like to save a life, I never believed I would be put in such a situation. It has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect.”

“[W]hat I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy,” Meis continued. “In the midst of this attention, we cannot ignore that a life was taken from us, ruthlessly and without justification or cause. Others were badly injured, and many more will carry this event with them the rest of their lives.”

Police say the gunman Ybarra has a history of mental illness and has been on suicide watch since the incident.  Meis has called for the community to respond to the gunman in a spirit of love.

“When I came face to face with the attacker, God gave me the eyes to see that he was not a faceless monster, but a very sad and troubled young man. While I cannot at this time find it within me to forgive his crime, I truly desire that he will find the grace of God and the forgiveness of our community.”

Offenses Shall Come (Pt. 3)

The ultimate test is one of pride and humility. Pride led to satan being cast out of heaven. Pride leads to unforgiveness and ultimately, alienation from Him. And pride always leads to a fall and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). We are more than conquerors because He, in His grace will enable us.

While our offenses may be great and indeed sometimes horrific, and while those who have caused them are worthy of judgment, we are not charged with administering that judgment. We are charged with obedience to the teachings of Christ Who taught us to forgive, leave the judgment to Him, and walk in humility and submission.

The Lord said in that day (of judgment), many will say unto Him:
Matthew 7:21-25 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

‘Knew’ in the scripture above means to have an intimate relationship with.

That’s why we are warned by the Lord himself that wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through that gate. But small is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Enduring until the end….

In the same passage in Matthew 24 which warns us of offense and the other things which will occur right before his coming, we also see a verse that describes the overcomer:

Matthew 24:13
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Endure is defined in the Greek below:

G5278 hoop-om-en’-o – To stay under (behind), that is, remain; figuratively to undergo, that is, bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere: – abide, endure, (take) patient (-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

Jesus humbled himself even unto death on the Cross. He endured the ultimate humiliation and injustice of man. He is our supreme example and our light by which we are able to find our way.

In the days we live in which are the last of the last, we must understand that He is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle whose lamps are full of oil (Matthew 25); one who has prepared herself for His return. His bride will shine brightly and the oil in her lamps will illuminate the way to Him. He will know (have an intimate relationship with) her, and she will know Him. Just as oil is extracted from the olive by crushing, I believe that precious oil which lights our lamps and lead us to Him comes from the crushing processes of life which, when we submit to them in obedience to God, show us the way to life everlasting.

Those things which He taught us by His supreme example are the things He will recognize within us at His coming. He will know us (have an intimate relationship with us) and we will know Him.

God loves you, He really does!