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George Washington and Loving Your Enemy

Stephen Olford tells the story of Peter Miller, a Baptist pastor during the American Revolution. Miller, lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and one of his dearest friends was General George Washington. In the town of Ephrata there also lived a spiteful troublemaker named Michael Wittman who did all he could to oppose and humiliate Miller.

One day, Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to death. When he heard the news, Miller set out to Philadelphia to plead for the life of his enemy. After walking seventy miles—on foot—Miller petitioned his friend, General Washington, to spare Wittman’s life.

“No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”

“My friend?” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s not my friend. In fact, he is the bitterest enemy I have.”

“What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did.

That day, Miller and Wittman walked back home to Ephrata together. When they arrived home, they were no longer enemies. They were friends.

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