SOMEONE ELSE'S FATHER
Almost the entire British empire had descended upon the small nation of South Africa in 1899. It was known as ‘The Boer War.’
Now the Aussies were called...they were to make the difference. They didn't have superior numbers nor advanced weaponry but the Boers were of the same ilk. They were bushmen with no more preparation than a hunting rifle and some provisions taken from their homes. The more fortunate ones rode horses.
Their Aussie counterparts were the same. Their uniforms were no more than dyed work clothes and each man was equipped with a .303. They too were bushmen and knew severe heat like that of their homeland. Tracking and living off the land were inherent skills. They were not an arrogant breed and therefore were not foolish enough to treat the locals as undisciplined savages.
Dave Simmons one summer afternoon on the veldt, surveyed the open fields. It was deceptive at best. Hollows in the earth hid snipers.
He was ordered by his superiors to scout the land and report back of any enemy activity. The soldier was a day from his camp and so far all looked peaceful in all directions.
He turned his horse and was about to make the ride back when a single shot rang out from across the plain.
Like a hot knife, the rifle round shattered his forearm and cut through his ribs at an angle. Twisting, he rolled sideways from the saddle. In his desperation, he ignored being winded on his fall to earth and crawled for his rifle. The pain and the spreading blood were enough to slow him from making it to his objective when he looked up at the lone Boer scout who came to a halt before him.
The hard looking young man kept his eyes on Dave and kicked his rifle aside, looking unperturbed. He didn't even take the precaution of aiming his own weapon at him.
“My orders are to take you in alive.” he said flatly. “But you'll never make it, Aussie. I can't see you lasting more than a day...you might see a day and a half.”
The Boer removed his black, broad brimmed hat and wiped his brow before swinging his muzzle at Dave’s forehead and hovered there as the fallen soldier winced at the inevitable.
To Dave's bemusement, the South African slung his weapon over his shoulder and gave his enemy some of his own water.
It was to be the beginning of a chain of unusual events. By the fire of the Boer scout that night, he tended Dave’s wounds as best he could and read from his Bible. He told the Aussie that his own camp was two days away and that he would not be able to get him to medical attention in time so his soul was at risk. Together they prayed the prayer of salvation, giving Dave's life to Christ.
The stranger delivered his enemy to the camp of the invaders and surrendered himself as it was only half a day’s ride. Here a hospital attended to Dave’s needs and he was to be sent home.
A pretty young nurse changed the flowers by his bedside and handed him a letter.
“You have word from your brother.” she announced cheerfully.
Dave accepted the folded paper with a puzzled expression. He didn't have a brother.
It read... My name is Peter Van der Haas. You were once my prisoner. They have allowed me to write this epistle to you from the cells here in Pretoria. I have learnt that you are healing well and will be returning home as inactive. I am sorry for the damage I have caused your arm but at least praise the Lord, you still live.
I am writing this to answer your inevitable question. Why did I save your life?
Believe me Aussie, I wanted to kill you and for good reason. A stray bullet from an Aussie rifle killed my little daughter. You deserved to die but I'm a Christian and I know that I deserve to die for all the wrongs I have done against the Lord.
Simply said, he forgave me, so now I forgive you. It is for this reason that I now know peace.
Now that you return home, you must learn to forgive also like the spreading ripples in a pool so that others too can learn to forgive.
Goodbye for now. I'll see you in Heaven. Your brother in Christ.
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