The first time I met Catherine she was at a young adults retreat with her two children. Her husband wasn’t there because he wasn’t a Christian. He had no interest in Christianity, in fact he was more interested in alcohol and drugs. None of the rest of her family was Christian either. Her brothers were like her husband. Her Dad and mom had split up. He had been member of her church briefly, but he had left it and had become an alcoholic. Catherine had come to the retreat for Christian encouragement and to allow her kids to experience positive male role models.
The next time I saw Catherine, her husband was with her, as well as three brothers. Almost all of them had become Christians. I was amazed! “What happened,” I asked Catherine? She responded by reminding me that I had told the attendees the prior year that lack of forgiveness would keep their prayers from being answered.
She had returned home convicted that she needed to forgive a man who had molested her when she was 10 or 11. She hated the man. The rest of her family also hated him. In fact, the family had imploded over what had happened.
She began praying every morning at 4 AM, begging God to convert her husband and the rest of her family. One day she seemed to see four men standing at the front of her church. She was certain God was telling her that her brothers were all going to be converted. She texted them at 5AM telling them what was coming. They texted back to say “You’re crazy; it's not going to happen.”
She continued to be convicted that God wanted her to forgive this man. Knowing her brothers also hated this man, she asked them to join her. Eventually they did, one of them having encountered the man at a gas station and realizing that he could be around the man. So they all went with Catherine to forgive the man.
It was not easy to forgive the man, and he did not seem at all repentent, but it began a wonderful train of events that resulted in all of Catherine's family becoming converted. As Catherine put it, “The Holy Spirit went out of control!” First one brother came to her and said he wanted whatever she had. Then another brother became interested. Eventually, all of them gave their hearts to God. Catherine’s husband also gave his life to Jesus. Even her parents were baptized, got back together and are happier now than they have ever been.
Truly, forgiveness brought conversions!