Walls or Bridges?

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

 In 1997, Pete Peterson arrived in Hanoi as the first United States Ambassador to Vietnam. His goal was to work with the Vietnamese government to secure an account of those still listed as missing in action from the Vietnam War, and to resolve the lingering POW/MIA issue.

Peterson was uniquely qualified for the job. From 1966 to 1973, he had been a prisoner of the North Vietnamese army, after the plane he was piloting was shot down.

When Peterson was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, his friends asked how he could return to the country where he had been held prisoner. 

He told them, “I’m not angry. I left that at the gates of the prison when I walked out.  I just left it behind me and decided to move forward with my life.”

What if Peterson had remained bitter and unforgiving toward his captors? Unforgiveness would have prevented him from building new bridges of friendship and diplomacy between two nations nearly three decades later. Instead, he used his earlier experience in Vietnam as a point of contact for doing something good and meaningful.

The same can happen to us. We can either use the experiences of our past to build walls to shut people out or to build bridges to connect with people.

For most of us, the key to bridge building is the word forgiveness.

An unforgiving Christian is an oxymoron.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you must forgive, because forgiven people are forgiving people.

Have a great day and keep moving forward!