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A Letter to an Enemy

Betty
Betty as a teenager

Nine-year-old Betty and her little brother lived with their parents in a small Colombian village. Their father was a pastor, and the people of the village loved him. He helped them find ways to meet their daily needs as well as their need for a Savior.

Paramilitary soldiers did not want Christian pastors to be leaders in their community. They wanted all the power, and they wanted the people to respect only them. They warned Betty’s father to stop helping the villagers.

(Paramilitaries are people fighting to keep power away from guerrillas in Colombia. Guerrillas carry out acts of war even though they are not part of the regular army. Both guerrillas and paramilitaries are outside the law. The Colombian army fights against both groups.)

Betty’s father wanted to do the will of God rather than the will of the paramilitaries. He continued to do his job.

Two weeks after the paramilitaries warned him to stop, three men dressed in black came to Betty’s door. They said they had “a few questions” to ask her father, and he left with them. He never came back. The paramilitary men shot him and he died.

Betty could not accept that her father was in heaven with Jesus. “He’s not dead,” she thought. “He’s just gone and will come home soon.” She, her brother, and her mother moved away from the village so they would be safe. They left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

Time passed, and Betty realized her father would not return. She began to get very angry at the people who killed him for his faith.

When Betty turned 14, she knew it was time to deal with her anger. She realized she must forgive her enemies. The heaviness in her heart would not go away until she did.

At Christmastime, Betty decided to write a Christmas letter to the commander of the paramilitary. Here is what the letter said:

“Dear Sir, Your men killed my father when I was only nine. He was a good man. And you are a bad man. But you have a soul, and God loves you. And this is my Christmas present to you. I forgive you. Betty”

Betty gave the letter to missionaries who knew some of the paramilitary leaders. But soon after that, the paramilitary commander was arrested and taken to a prison.

Betty hoped there would be a way for him to get the letter. She even hoped she might someday be able to forgive the commander face to face. In the meantime, she knew she had obeyed God’s commandment to forgive those who sin against you (Matthew 6:14–15).


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