Many years I spoke at a meeting in (Porter Downtown Hall) right at the height of the troubles when there was a lot of pain, a lot of killing, a lot of hurting and hating. And at a crowded meeting in the Town Hall, I remember something very beautiful happened.
There was a woman there who came in with two sticks and sat on the front seat and we had a time of praise. And to everyone’s amazement this woman got up, her sticks went flying, and she began to dance.
And she was joined by other people. They were dancing in praise and adoration of God. Catholics and Protestants. And people were staggered and they asked her to tell them what had happened.
And she said, “God placed a hand in Christ on my breath. I hated the other side.” I don’t know whether she was a Catholic or Protestant but she was well-known in the town and she was known for her hatred. And she said, “I’ve been healed of my hatred and that is the miracle, not my legs.”
And everyone thought that it was the miracle of healed legs but it was the miracle of healed heart. So, we sang a hymn of thanksgiving. During that hymn, two women stood up – one on that side and one on this side – one was a Protestant lady whose son had been murdered by the son of the Catholic lady on this side. One a loyalist, the other a Nationalist, a Republican.
And they stood up and then advanced towards the platform. I didn’t know what was happening – I thought there might be disorder but they came and stood by me and said, “We want to speak.” I said, “But of course you can”. The Protestant lady said, when they stopped singing the hymn, “I looked at you shopping in the Porter down centre and I hated you because your son had murdered my son and I wanted you to die.”
And the other lady came and said, “I saw you in the shopping centre and I blamed you and the British for my son being drawn into the troubles as an Irish Catholic and I blamed you and I hated you.”
And then the lady on the right said that now tonight God has given me love for my sister and the other lady said that God has given me love for my sister.
They then publicly forgave one another and they threw their arms around one another and hugged and wept and the whole gathering was stood up and applauded and applauded and then began to weep.
And there was sobbing all around the hall. We had seen Jesus heal broken hearts. We had seen Jesus transform a terrible, hellish situation into something beautiful.
People went home and said there is hope for Northern Ireland. God will heal us. And he did.
God bless you