The Healing Power of Compassion and Forgiveness

George M. Nutwell III and Ivan Corea come from different perspectives from within the Church. However, they are at one with the view that Jesus was a Compassionate Leader who healed out of compassion and readily forgave others. They examine the healing power of compassion and forgiveness, from Christ’s perspective:

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

George M. Nutwell III

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Like many others, I had always understood forgiveness to be a good thing, albeit difficult to do in many cases. I had always heard it would bring peace to the forgiver and that makes sense since a grudge is heavy on the heart. But is that it? Is that all Jesus meant by forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer? When I retired from the Foreign Service and decided to enter the prison ministry, I found that forgiveness and loving one’s enemies was a core issue facing many of the people locked up. Most of them have much to forgive. They also want to be forgiven and would like to be able to forgive themselves. I needed to uplift these men so where to begin?

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, the first great story of forgiveness appears. Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and then spent time in prison, forgave his brothers. He said to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Gen 50:20, NLT) Joseph saw the situation from a divine perspective. His brothers had been ignorant, and God had a higher plan. This event previewed Jesus’ crucifixion.

While on the cross, Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24, NLT) Jesus was asking for the forgiveness of his persecutors on the grounds that they were ignorant and did not understand the higher plan. They were ignorant of God who St. John said is “love.” St. John explained further that “anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I John 4:8, NLT) Is that not the reason for all evil-doing, an ignorance or lack of understanding of love.

Many of the men in prison have been abused and abandoned. They have no concept of unconditional or, as St. John called it, perfect love. For one who does not know love, how is he to be taught love? One will never learn through fear or punishment. They will also not learn through words alone. They can only learn through the act or example of love. Forgiveness is that act. That is why Jesus taught his followers to love one’s enemies. This included praying for them. He added that this is how God loves His children and in that act of divine love, perfection is revealed. “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NIV) Forgiveness is the teacher that reveals perfection just like a piano teacher reveals it in a student.

The result of Jesus’ forgiveness on the cross was the conversion of the Roman Centurion, his own resurrection, and the saving example for all mankind. Earlier, in his ministry, people were healed of disease and sin after Jesus forgave them. I finally got it. There is spiritual power in forgiveness. All divine laws are backed by divine authority and power. When they are obeyed, “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, NLT)

As I began to share this spiritual law in my prison ministry, I witnessed individual resurrections. I saw people transformed by their forgiveness, and prayer, for those who had harmed them in the past. One example stands out above others. A man who had been in and out of prison over the years was suffering from physical and relationship issues. He did not ask for healing of those things. He asked to be healed of his feelings of hatred, anger and the desire for revenge against the many people who had hurt or betrayed him throughout his life. He had been kicked out of the house at thirteen and grew up on the streets using and selling drugs. He had been betrayed by family, even recently. He said, he could not sleep at night because all he could do is think about revenge. He asked, how can I overcome this problem? My answer – the spiritual law of forgiveness, taught and exemplified by Christ Jesus. I pointed him to the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-48, where Jesus commands us to love and pray for our enemies. I suggested that he make a list of people who had hurt him over the years and begin praying for them daily. Such a prayer might include him forgiving them as Jesus did on the cross.

It might also include praying for them to know God and feel His Grace. He began this daily prayer activity. For the first week, he later said, he did not feel sincere, but he did it out of respect for me. When the next week came, he started to feel something in his heart. It was turning warm with love. By the end of that week his life began to change. He started to sleep well, and a reoccurring pain began to disappear. He began to receive letters from the outside after having not received any for eighteen months. He also got a visit from family and an old friend. He felt like he was going through a re-birth of some kind. He felt more humility and gratitude than ever before. Soon after, he went through a physical exam where he found out that a disease had disappeared that has been with him for years. He was feeling the divine power of love in his life as never before. He has since continued to grow spiritually and has shared his testimony with many in prison, spreading his light. It is quite possible that his transformation will lead to an earlier release in the future.

I have witnessed this same spiritual power in my own life and in the lives of family and friends. To forgive is to teach love. It shines the light that Jesus said is in all of us. Just imagine the results of obeying this spiritual law in your own life. What do you have to lose?

THE COMPASSIONATE JESUS

Ivan Corea

LEPER

“Jesus Wept.”

These words are two of the most powerful words in the New Testament. John Chapter 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible but these two words really give us an insight into His heart of compassion. There are those who think that compassion might be a weakness, a ‘soft skill.’ Not so. I want to put it to you that compassion is a powerful tool, in the hands of a leader. I do believe it is a leadership strength.

Jesus, in his time, saw the suffering in front of him. His friends – Mary and Martha who were sisters from Bethany, had sent word to Jesus that their sibling, Lazarus was ill. They were the three closest friends of Jesus. The sisters report goes like this: ‘Lazarus, the one you love is sick.’ Lazarus was dying. He was seriously ill. My mind goes back to a morning when I received a telephone call from my niece Rebecca in New Malden, in Surrey, in the United Kingdom.

My niece was crying on the phone, she told me my father was dying. She had called an ambulance and wanted me to come immediately. There was a problem, I lived two hours away from them and it meant a journey on the tube, on the underground, across London, from the other side of town. (It took me two hours to try to reach the side of my father, on the other hand, Jesus was across the river Jordan, about twenty miles from where Mary and Martha lived, it would have taken him at least a good day’s walk to reach their home). I sensed the urgency in the voice of my niece, she wanted me to come ‘right now.’ It would have been the same with Mary and Martha. I just dropped everything, dashed out of our home and took the tube. Fighting back the tears in a packed tube, I kept praying and recollected the times with my precious father, childhood in Sri Lanka, moments in India, new adventures in Great Britain, a wonderful visit to Washington D.C.

A smile broke out on my face when I remembered the time we visited Lucknow Zoo in India. I was standing behind my father and was flabbergasted to see a pickpocket before my eyes, trying to steal my father’s wallet. I lifted the pickpocket by the scruff of his neck, my father just said let him go and forgave him! That was a salutary lesson in forgiveness! Back in 1970s London, I went to see a rock group at the Roundhouse Theatre. My father travelled across London in his light blue Volkswagen ,to give me a ride back home to Upper Norwood. I don’t know how he found me that night, but he did. That was my father. He was concerned for my safety. He thought I had gone to see a play! I loved my father, unconditionally, and I ran to be by his side. Sadly, by the time I reached my beloved father, he had passed away. Dad had ‘gone home.’ As I stood by his bedside touching his lifeless form, I was able to thank God for his life and I committed my earthly father’s spirit into my Heavenly Father’s loving hands. I was reminded of Larry Norman’s lyrics:

‘And now you’ve gone, so far away
I hope I’ll see you again someday
But if I don’t, I hope I’ll see you in heaven.’

So, in the instance of his close friend Lazarus, what did Jesus do? He waited for two more days before rushing to his side. He intentionally delayed his trip. When He heard that Lazarus was dying, Jesus said: ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son will be glorified through it.’ (John Chapter 11) Jesus knew what was going to happen. He went on to say, ‘our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ Jesus waited because He wanted Mary, Martha, Lazarus, his disciples and the people around him to experience something so profound. It was a huge step of faith they would have to take, to place their total trust in Him. Jesus had such compassion – he wanted them to see his power over death, it was a picture into the future when He himself would be raised from the dead on the third day. This was miraculous healing, He had the power to raise the dead.

Jesus saw people suffering. Their heartbreak was His heartbreak. He had genuine compassion for others. Jesus just had to touch them, and they were healed. The woman with a hemorrhage touched the hem of His garment and was healed. (Mathew Chapter 19: 18-26) Jesus had compassion equal to His power. His compassion was such that he dared to do what no other person in his day would have done – He touched and healed a leper. During that era, lepers lived in colonies, set apart from the rest of the local community. They were reduced to begging and had to shout ‘unclean, unclean,’ to warn others when they were travelling – people would avoid them. Some threw stones at them. They suffered banishment from their friends and families. People would not dare go anywhere near a leper.

I was a teenager travelling with my family across India. We were travelling to New Delhi. As soon as we came out of the railway station, I saw a leper who was begging in the heat and dust, right outside the crowded railway station. This was the first time I had ever come across a leper. Although I gave him some money, I did not touch him. Lepers were treated as ‘untouchables.’ What did Jesus do? He touched and healed them, out of compassion for them. He restored them to communion again. The leper said: ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ What was His response? In Mathew Chapter 8 verse 3: ‘Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.’ He said, ‘I am willing.’ He turns to the leper and says, ‘Be clean,’ and he was immediately cleansed of his leprosy. Jesus moved by compassion, healed others. ‘When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed them.’ (Mathew 14:14)

When I was growing up on the island of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka, I drank some contaminated water and developed typhoid fever. One night I had 105 F fever and was dying. My stomach was on fire. I was rolling on the bed in pain. My younger brother slept on a mat by my bedside, holding my hand in the night. It was at that point of severe, excruciating pain that I cried out to Jesus and said, ‘please heal me.’ At the time I wasn’t a practicing Christian.

My family were church going people, but I hadn’t made a conscious decision to accept Jesus as my Savior. But He heard my cry. I started getting better. It was a gradual process. I spent six months in bed, I weighed about 98 lbs. It was an absolute miracle and I am alive to tell the tale. Healing is real. I have experienced the Compassionate Jesus. His compassion, his love, his healing, is available to you. He said: ‘according to your faith, so be it unto you.’ He bore our sicknesses, so we don’t have to. By His stripes we are healed. ‘I am willing,’ said Jesus to the leper. ‘Be clean.’

Feeding Hungry Homes in Sri Lanka at Christmas

” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:35-40

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This is David. He leads GOD TV on the island of Sri Lanka. His heart beats for those who are suffering. He cannot and will not walk by on the other side. During Christmas David is ‘feeding hungry homes,’ in the name of Jesus. This involves over 27 Assemblies across Sri Lanka. Each of these food packs will last a Sri Lankan family of four for an entire month.

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There are those who are struggling to exist at Christmas, David and God TV are reaching out to their Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in compassion, with so much love. In Isaiah Chapter 58: verse 10 where we are called to: ” Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. ” This is compassion in action.

FOOD

Ivan Corea

How to be a Compassionate Leader

How to be a Compassionate Leader

Ronnie Floyd writing in Crosswalk observes that:

Forward Leaders Are Compelled by Compassion

“The greatest leader in the history of the world was also the most compassionate. His name is Jesus Christ. His life, words, style, and even tone all captivated masses of people. He was Truth, is Truth, and will always be the Truth. When He shared truth with others, they listened; His words and tone captivated them. ”

Here is the Crosswalk.com link to his article:

https://www.crosswalk.com/family/career/how-to-be-a-compassionate-leader.html

Compassion To Action

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Photograph of Chris Overstreet, courtesy of Portland 2018

 

American Evangelist, Chris Overstreet, is one of the most compassionate pastors I have ever met. Chris Overstreet, now based in Portland, Oregon, was the former Outreach Pastor of Bethel Church, in California. Chris has a vision to help raise up evangelists across America and to rally the body of Christ around the Cross to reach cities all across America for Jesus.

It was a Sunday morning. My wife, son and I were on our way to church. The place was packed. My wife went to the park the car and it was absolutely full. Meanwhile my son and I went into the church to find seats. We struggled to find even one. Able bodied people were seated in the disabled seating and I hunted for seats, fully knowing that our precious son would find it difficult to stay in the service without a seat. Some people on the autism spectrum think differently – some think in pictures and numbers. I just knew what was going through the mind of our beloved son – he definitely had a ‘picture’ of a ‘seat.’ We couldn’t find one. He let out a wail as he was extremely upset that we couldn’t find seats. He went into the corridor outside and was inconsolable. We sat down on the floor. Some people walked by on the other side.

Then came a man who had heard our son cry. He came quietly, with concern etched on his face, for our son. He too was a father and he displayed the characteristics of love and compassion of our Heavenly Father. My son and I were both seated on the floor. The man who came to us, in our hour of need, was Chris Overstreet. The first thing he asked me was: ‘What can I do to help?’ Our son had cried so much that he was exhausted and thirsty. Chris Overstreet promptly got up and from somewhere brought our son (who was in distress), a glass of iced water. Then, still on his haunches, giving eye contact to our son, laid hands on him and prayed for him with all of his heart. He prayed for the peace of Jesus to invade our son’s heart and mind, he prayed for calm, he prayed for the Holy Spirit to come, right there in that church corridor. Our son calmed down. This was an incredible act of compassion.

Chris Overstreet’s compassion reminded me of a scene from that epic film, “Ben-Hur,” released in 1959, starring Charlton Heston and directed by William Wyler. There is a scene in the film where Judah Ben Hur was refused water by the Roman soldiers and fainted as a result, crashing to the ground. He cried out: “God help me!” Then this peaceful figure approaches him with a cup of water and gives him to drink. Jesus took compassion and Chris Overstreet was following the example of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He took compassion on our precious son. That act of unconditional love still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it and it is something I will never ever forget and will take that ‘picture’ with me in my mind and in my heart when we leave California.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13, 14

This really was compassion to action, which is the profound ministry of Chris Overstreet. Subsequently I had the privilege of addressing one of the fellowships at the church on the theme of “Compassion and Autism.” I appealed to all those present, not to walk by on the other side if they see a child with autism in distress. I urged them to ‘do a Chris Overstreet,’ and even if the parents or carer givers say ‘no thank you,’ still ask them: ‘What can I do to help?’ His timely and God-sent intervention that day, reflected the love and the compassion of Jesus Christ.

Ivan Corea

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Lessons in Compassionate Leadership

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It doesn’t cost to be ‘compassionate.’ It comes from the heart. The very definition of the word ‘compassion,’ presents a rich tapestry of caring for the suffering of other people, going that extra mile to relieve suffering.

I have witnessed incredible acts of compassion and kindness, in the City of Redding, in California. People feeding the homeless, driving them for breakfast, being involved in city wide projects. Once the battery in my cell phone had gone dead when I was in Lake Boulevard in Redding, California. I had just arrived in the city, I didn’t really know my way, had no car and needed to get home. A man came out of this office block. He asked me if everything was OK. I told him my phone was dead. Without hesitation, he said ‘I will drive you home.’ That was compassion in action.

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Winston Churchill was inspirational, heroic and compassionate. A quote attributed to Churchill says this: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ It could be a smile, a kind word, giving someone a meal, giving of your time to listen to someone, helping a stranger financially, serving the community – there are so many ways to give.

It takes a great deal of strength and character to be a good person. Compassionate leaders are sometimes seen as weak, without a backbone, a ‘soft touch.’ Some feel they need to ‘trash talk’ their competitors, rivals, the opposition, to show ‘who is boss.’ Not so. Compassionate Leaders can be ‘life changers,’ and ‘world changers.’  You don’t have to maintain a certain style of leadership where you are seen to be ‘strong’ if you are coercive, forceful, authoritarian. When you are compassionate, you increase the capacity of your workforce, your community, the people around you, to be compassionate themselves – this potentially leads to happiness, thereby decreasing stress and anxiety. You bring optimism and hope into an organisation by being a Compassionate Leader.

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I was born in Colombo, Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka), where I witnessed ‘compassion in action,’ in my own family. I saw my grandfather, Reverend Canon Ivan Corea, reaching out to a Sri Lankan community called the ‘Rodi’, who were treated like untouchables, outcasts of society. My grandfather (who was a clergyman), found them employment, clothed them, fed them and housed them on church property. He made a lasting impact on my life. When my grandfather passed away I witnessed a very moving sight, over a hundred members of the Rodi, the poorest of the poor, (there were also those who had turned to Christ), had heard he had gone to be with Jesus his Lord, Master and Savior in Heaven and they were weeping uncontrollably – he had touched their lives – they remembered his acts of compassion.

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Jesus is a very powerful example of a Compassionate Leader. ‘Jesus Wept,’ are two of the most emotionally loaded words in the Bible. ( John Chapter 11: verse 35) He was moved by emotion for people who came to see him and hear him – he put compassion into action by healing the sick, causing the blind to see, raising the dead, feeding people when they were hungry. It was always ‘to the least of these.’

 Here are 5 lessons in Compassionate Leadership:

  1. Serve others – go that extra mile for people in your workforce, your community.
  2. Be open, honest, transparent, in your communication with others.
  3. Be flexible – you may have to set aside the rule book of your organisation in the interests of others.
  4. Lead by example – preach what you practice, you need to be compassionate yourself and genuinely so.
  5. Avoid trying to motivate your workforce by judging your employees and criticising them in front of others. Lift them up, speak up for them, show them kindness. It will bring positive organisational change – for the better.

 

Ivan Corea