Reconciliation and Forgiveness Resources

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We live in a time of great division. Many of our classes, churches, and even families are struggling with the conflict that comes when people disagree on matters of great importance to them. Too often, these disagreements can lead to hurtful words, harmful actions, and ultimately broken trust and relationships.

Synod 2018 encouraged the Christian Reformed Church in North America to work on the process of reconciliation. In response to an overture, Synod 2018 specifically recommended, “That synod urge the executive director to work with the appropriate agencies and ministries to publicize existing resources addressing unresolved conflict in our history and the need for reconciliation.”  (Acts of Synod 2018, p 473)

Below is a list of resources that we have gathered that might be helpful to individuals and congregations on this topic:

In addition, there are many local resources available in different regions where our CRC congregations are located.  This includes Shalem’s Faithcare in Ontario, private mediation services by CRC practitioners in Alberta North, and the Colossian Forum in West Michigan.

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U.S. Senator Ben Sasse's new book is just out - Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal (St. Martin’s Press).

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I'll have to check that out! Looks hot off the press. I  was encouraged to read more about him recently and saw that he co-authored a book with the late J. M. Boice. It sounds like he is a solid reformed guy and Lord willing, will have a long, healthy presence in D.C. serving our nation. Refreshing and needed.

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Grateful to see this action taken seriously by the Synod and in a swift manner. I would HIGHLY recommend adding to the list the resources from "The Peacemaker" by Ken Sande. In addition to being a really biblically solid book, the ministry also provides training for people desiring to become mediators of conflict resolution. While this is something we all should strive toward, there at times need to have others help when reconciliation hasn't been achieved.
Check it out: https://rw360.org/peacemaking/

Concerning forgiveness: I am curious (for those who have read all the above recommendations) if there is consensus on the role of forgiveness to those unwilling to repent, or if the resources address that at all. I know it has caused some debate before in certain circles, but it can often be misunderstood if not properly described and explored. From the perspective of a personal declaration of forgiveness from the offended to the offender, some believe that forgiveness should always be granted, even if the offender is unrepentant. Others believe that one should not tell the unrepentant offender that they are forgiven because it does a disservice to them. We should desire repentance and reconciliation to God. Their sin/offense is first and foremost against Him. Now, to not declare to the person that you forgive them is not the same as being an unforgiving person. We are to by all means forgive them from the heart and be ready to declare forgiveness to them, but only upon the offender humbly repenting and seeking the reconciliation as well. In other words, it does not mean that one would hold something against the offender or store up bitterness toward them until they repent... that would be an unforgiving heart. But for the sake of the gospel, we should lovingly confront and seek reconciliation with the offender. We want to forgive just as (in the same way) God in Christ has forgiven us. (Eph 4:32) I think that God does not just dismiss the sins and offenses of the unrepentant (that would be unjust) but instead he pursues them in love and seeks reconciliation which He accomplished and applied through His Son's life and death. But I don't think that forgiveness is ever granted without repentance. (many bring up Jesus' comments on the cross but I think that does not make a clear case for the later position).

Anyways, sorry to go on. I know this may not all apply to the area of disagreeable differences, in which case brotherly love should reign, but perhaps it can be a helpful discussion concerning clear cases where forgiveness is needed. Thanks!

Resonate Global Mission also has a workshop that we are running in Ukraine and spreading in Europe called "Healing Hearts, Transforming Nations".  This is a ministry that was developed in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.  It is being used all over Africa and in some places in the Middle East and Asia as well.  We plan to introduce the workshop in Grand Rapids in January 2019.  Hopefully there will be more information coming out soon as to dates (probably 9-11), venues and costs.  The founder of this ministry, Dr. Rhiannon Lloyd, of Wales, UK (www.healingthenations.co.uk) along with the leader of the ministry in Rwanda, Pastor Joseph Nyamutera (Rabagirana.org) and Szabina Sztojka, a Roma leader in the Hungarian Reformed Church, will be coming to present the workshop and share of how it is transforming lives and communities in Rwanda, Hungary and Wales.

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Loads of other free resources at ReformedWorship.org.  To find them type "Reconciliation" into the search bar at the top right corner of the page.  (You may be asked to register but all you need to provide is your email.)