The famous actor Colin Firth will star in a new film in 2013 about the life of Eric Lomax. I can’t wait to see how it will turn out. Eric died in October 2012 at the age of 92 and filming had begun in the April.
The damage of suffering torture in Thailand at the hands of the Japanese army remained with Eric for fifty years before he began to seek healing. A remarkable woman called Helen Bamber ‘had learned as a girl, in Belsen, the importance of allowing people to tell what had been done to them; the power of listening to their testimony and of giving people the recognition that their experience deserves’. With her help Eric’s life was changed, at nearly seventy years of age.
Meantime Nagase Takashi, who had been the interpreter for the Japanese soldiers who were torturing Eric, had been trying for fifty years to atone for his guilt in this involvement, and after the war had devoted the rest of his life to the memory of those who died on the infamous railroad in Thailand and Burma.
Eric and his wife, Patti, read a book by Nagase Takashi, ‘Crosses and Tigers’, Patti wrote to Nagase suggesting that contact between him and Eric could be a healing experience for them both. She explained that Eric had not forgiven him for his involvement. His response was to write back that her letter had thrust a dagger into the bottom of his heart.
Their eventual meeting a year later was to me one of the most dramatic and moving accounts I’ve ever read in an autobiography. I wonder what Hollywood will make of it.
Eric wrote ‘meeting Nagase has turned him from a hated enemy, with whom friendship would have been unthinkable, into a blood-brother … I had proved for myself that remembering is not enough, if it simple hardens hate’.
Eric knew it was within his power to hold Nagase under condemnation for his sins or to ‘give him the forgiveness he desired’. It reminded me of these Bible verses ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21), and ‘Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’ (Romans 12:17-18).
Eric and his wife did have a moment of doubt and wondered whether they were doing the right thing after all, as they later looked at the rows and rows of graves, but it was only a moment. They both knew they had to be there. Eric said ‘Sometime the hating has to stop’.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I thank You that Jesus has overcome evil with the power of the cross and that the damage and pain of all forms of abuse, cruelty and hatred can be healed by love and forgiveness in Your purposes and plans. Amen.
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