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Revenge Fantasies Replaced by Forgiveness

Marcus Doe used to dream of revenge against his father’s killer. Then he came to faith in Christ. He writes:

We had heard the distant gunshots for a few weeks. But that morning they were close. By mid-morning we were all lying face down in the house, listening as bullets whizzed through the air. In the lull between bursts of gunfire, we could hear voices shouting instructions. If they found out my name, they would kill me.

I was born in Liberia, West Africa, where my father served in the Special Security Service of President Samuel Doe (no relation), who had come to power through a violent military coup. The “freedom fighters” had come to remove him, and killing anyone who worked in Doe’s government.

At that time, Marcus was only 11-years-old. He had already lost his mother to illness and now his father’s life was in danger. The rebels were ruthless, murdering innocent people on the barest of suspicions. So, his father sent him to live with his brother, Roosevelt, and his wife.

Later that year, Marcus and his brother left on a ship for neighboring Ghana. He felt that life was just returning to normal when he received word that his father had been killed. He was now an orphan.

My life’s goal was to find the soldier or soldiers who made me an orphan and make them pay. Then my brother and his wife came to America as refugees, and in 1993 we arrived. In quiet times, I daydreamed of revenge. I cried myself to sleep most nights.

After Marcus graduated from high school, Roosevelt had a sudden heart attack at age 38. Marcus said, “In that darkness, I turned to God. I had one question: ‘Why?’ I listed all the things that I blamed him for: Ma, Pa, the war, separation from family, their suffering — and now my beloved brother. I blamed God. Why?”

Guilt overwhelmed me. I had chosen to nurse my desire for vengeance. I realized that I could relinquish them once and for all. I begged God to forgive me. I would let go of revenge and rage. I asked God, from the sincerest and deepest part of my heart, to save my brother.

Four days later, he got the news that Roosevelt would recover. That answered prayer was the first step in his journey to faith. He says, “I began truly walking the road of forgiveness. I decided that I wanted to find my father’s killer. I practiced saying, ‘I forgive you.’”

In 2010, almost 20 years after I had left, I made my way back to Liberia. But I did not meet my father’s killer. He had died in the fighting. Even so, I forgave him. Today, I hope to share this hard-won peace and hope with fellow Liberians, so many of whom suffered greatly during our country’s brutal civil wars. But more important, I’ll strive to bring gospel healing. Because wherever Jesus’ words of forgiveness are spoken, the future is bright with hope.

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