Transformation: Forgiveness and reconciliation after 45 years
Join host Cathy Herholdt and Karess Linzer as they share a story about sisters who were facing a bitter feud for four and a half decades. For years these sisters avoided each other in their small community until one day, God’s love began to stir up the need for reconciliation and their relationship was transformed.
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Join host Cathy Herholdt and Karess Linzer as they share a story of the transforming power of God’s love that led to reconciliation between two sisters. From uncertainty and being uncomfortable approaching one another to being willing to allow God to move in their hearts, this transformation was unforgettable and moving. Hear how their families and entire community had front row seats to witness the powerful reconciliation after the 45-year feud.
Transformation: Forgiveness and reconciliation after 45 years
Cathy Herholdt: We're doing something a little different on the podcast right now. We're in the middle of a short series of conversations on a topic that aligns with our mission to share what God is doing at the end of the road. And we're calling this series Beyond the End of the Road, because we're taking you a little deeper into these stories. For the next couple weeks, we're focusing on transformation. And we're excited to jump into this with you. And as always, we're so glad you're along for the ride. Once again, I'm excited to welcome back to the podcast, my friend, and what I'm calling the Robin to my Batman, Karess Linzer. Thanks for joining me again, Karess.
Karess Linzer: Of course. And thank you, Cathy. I am so excited to be joining you on the podcast again. I mean, it's been a while since I've been on this side of things, but I'm looking forward to having conversations about these stories of transformation that we're going to be sharing. And my hope for this series, as I've said, is that we can really shed light on the empowering transformation that's happening in the areas that we serve.
Cathy Herholdt: So because we believe in the power of stories, we're going to use stories to guide these conversations. So we came across a story recently that both of us were really moved by, and it's the story of two sisters. They're in their 80s and they live in Kenya. And they've been embroiled in a bitter, get this, 45 year feud. They have been essentially estranged from each other for four and a half decades. Now, this has got to be hard when you live in a small village. I mean, you probably would see your sister everywhere you go. It's like that family member you're mad at, and when you both show up at a family gathering, it's so awkward. But this was way beyond an awkward disagreement. We don't know what led to their argument, but it must have been something big to drive such a deep wedge between these two women.
Karess Linzer: Wow, 45 years is an extremely long time, especially when we're talking about harboring that unforgiveness with a family member. And they're in a small village. I mean, you have to intentionally plan ways to avoid that person. So this just lets me know that the hurt and the frustration really ran deep amongst these sisters. And we don't know why, but I think we can all agree that after 45 years, they would need a little help navigating what it looks like to forgive one another. And they definitely would not be able to do it on their own.
Cathy Herholdt: Right. It seems like at some point you would just miss your sister and you'd go to her and say, hey, can we just fix this? But I know that that's not easy when there are really deep hurts. And sometimes it's just not a healthy situation and you have to distance yourself from that person. And I want to say that upfront, because there may be listeners who are listening to this today who have experienced a painful rift in a relationship or something even more unhealthy or unsafe. And we don't want to imply that anyone should try or even want to reconcile that relationship. This story we're talking about today is really about a conflict, a disagreement between two people that ended up causing such a deep division in their families that it lasted more than half their lifetime. I don't know about you, but I've had conflicts with people in my life that I really love who are super important to me, and those are the hardest ones. Those are the ones I feel led sometimes to go and try to work it out to seek their forgiveness or offer my forgiveness.
Karess Linzer: Yes. And for me, I can think of some challenging conflicts that I've had with loved ones too. And the most common theme of them all is that it takes a lot of energy and thought to really be mad at someone and avoid them. And so what I realize over time is that true reconciliation can only come when I stretch myself and I get okay with being uncomfortable, so I can sit down with them and talk things out so we can hopefully move forward.
Cathy Herholdt: So that's exactly what these sisters did. Eventually, one of the sisters, her name is Nema, she started attending a World Concern Bible study in her village, and it was called God's Purpose for Mankind. And through it, she felt like God was beginning to speak to her in her heart and asking her to reconcile with her sister. So she went to her local church, she talked with the pastor there and others, she sought counsel on this, and a meeting of the two sisters was arranged. Can you imagine? I would be so nervous after that many years of not speaking to someone.
Karess Linzer: I mean, after that much time has passed, I wonder if, for me, I wonder if I would just try to find any and every excuse to avoid that initial awkward conversation. I mean, do you know how many pep talks I would have to give myself before that meeting? A lot. So I would probably go over every possible scenario that would run through my mind on how my sister may react, what she might say. I think of all the things I wanted to tell her. And I mean, just sitting down with your sister with that much hurt and after so much time has passed, that takes a lot of courage.
Cathy Herholdt: Well, Nema and her sister apparently mustered up the courage, and after much prayer I'm sure to meet, and they were able to talk and ultimately forgive each other, and they reconciled their relationship. And I just think what freedom and relief that must have brought. Their families were overjoyed. The whole community was blown away, because I'm sure they thought they'd never see this happen. There must have just been a great rejoicing and I love picturing that. This is a pretty radical transformation that really started with one person allowing God's word to pierce her heart and plant the seeds of transformation. And that's what we mean when we talk about spiritual transformation.
Nema was likely involved in other aspects of World Concern's work in her village. She might have been raising livestock, or been a member of a savings group, or maybe she's on the water committee that maintains the well in her village. I don't know exactly, but the fact is her life was not truly transformed. Even if things were looking up for her economically, tangibly, she still had this deep resentment and bitterness toward her sister. And it wasn't until she joined the Bible study that she began this process of spiritual transformation it sounds like. We see this holistic view of both physical and spiritual transformation as our goal at World Concern. And it's something fairly unique about our work. Not every organization addressing poverty has this as their goal.
Karess Linzer: Cathy, and that's why I really love this story so much because it really paints a beautiful picture of spiritual transformation. God's love began to stir up the need for reconciliation in Nema's heart towards her sister, and I love that Nema didn't ignore it. She leaned in and she took her first steps of reconciliation with her sister. And as tempting as I imagine it probably was to just continue life the way that they've been doing it beforehand for 45 years, but I also think of all the things that they missed out on because of unforgiveness, so be it family events or gatherings within their community, and then just also having that deep bond as sisters. That transformation was truly necessary for them. And I also love that the community got to witness that.
Cathy Herholdt: Absolutely. That leads to that whole community transformation when they see what's possible in this relationship. I think about those verses in scripture that talk about that the changes are made so that God gets the glory. And so I imagine that people in this community saw this happen knowing that it came out of a Bible study, that it came out of surrender, that it came out of Nema's willingness to obey God. And in that sense, he ends up getting the glory for this incredible change that took place. So I think my takeaway from this story is that first of all, relationships are similar all over the world. Even in a rural village in Kenya, families can have conflict and have issues just like ours. We all have issues. For me, I want to consider how I might be putting up a wall in certain areas of my life and not letting God or his word seep in there and really change me.
Maybe it's a relationship that has tension or an area of unforgiveness. I mean, we all struggle with unforgiveness at some point in our lives. So I want to be open, hopefully before I'm 80, to how God wants to transform me from the inside out. In fact, unforgiveness is something I'm struggling with right now. There have been some deep hurts in a particular relationship in my life and I'm having to ask God to help me. I don't feel forgiveness, but I know it's what God calls me to do, the act of forgiving, even if I don't feel it. It's sort of that fake it till you make it motto. This story between Nema and her sister has challenged me to keep praying for God to help me with this. It's not something I can do in my own strength. I imagine there are others out there that might be listening today to this who are struggling with that issue of unforgiveness as well. And maybe these sisters on the other side of the world can give you hope. It's really never too late to heal a broken relationship.
Karess Linzer: I definitely agree with you on that. It almost immediately reminds me of the impact of relationships that we have with one another, and also how their families in the community have those front row seats that we talked about to really see the power of God's reconciliation. And it also makes me think about the areas in my life and in my heart that God might be calling me to take a deeper look at, whether it's unforgiveness or just being something that I've been comfortable with for much longer than I should. I just want to remain as open as possible to get uncomfortable so that I can allow him to shift things within me. Now, this is easier said than done, but this is something that this story really inspires me to do.
Cathy Herholdt: Yeah, I agree. Thanks for that vulnerability and sharing that, and also for acknowledging that it is easier said than done. We can talk about ways that we want to grow and things we want to apply to our life, but it takes commitment, and it takes prayer, and it takes obedience to make those changes and to be open to them. So I appreciate you sharing that with us today, Karess.
Well, it's been a great conversation again today. We hope that you, our listeners, have enjoyed it as much as we have and that you've been challenged by what you've heard today in this story. And if you have takeaways from this conversation, we'd love for you to share them with us. You can message us on Instagram at The End of the Road podcast, or you can also email us at [email protected]. We'll put that contact information in the show notes and we would love to hear from you. Thanks for listening and joining us today for this conversation. And thanks again to you, Karess, for sharing a bit of your heart with us and your thoughts on transformation. This is great. I love having a partner in this. Thanks again for joining us today.
I want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope your mind has been expanded and your heart has been touched by what God is doing around the world. If you like what you're hearing on The End of the Road, please give us a five star rating and review us on Apple Podcasts, or hit the bell symbol on Spotify to be notified when there's a new episode released. Stay in the know and never miss an episode by texting the word podcast to 34444. I want to thank CRISTA Ministries World Concerns parent organization for making this podcast possible. And I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production, and editing and consulting expertise, for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today. We look forward to more stories at The End of the Road next time.