Frank was a quiet man who didn’t talk much. But he always greeted people with a big smile and a firm handshake on Sunday mornings.
He rode the city bus since he could no longer drive, and walked about ˝ mile to church. He walked with a limp due to an old war injury that caused him to stumble occasionally, but he refused to use a cane. Although he was 78 and not physically strong, his mind and heart were strong for the Lord and he continued to teach the third grade Sunday school class as he had for 12 years.
One February evening, Frank was attacked by a gang of teens on his way home from buying groceries. He told the police that the boys pushed him down, kicked and hit him, and scattered his food. They took his wallet and his watch and left him bleeding on the street.
A couple of months later, he was attacked again. He recognized the boys and tried to talk them out of hurting him, but they didn’t listen. He spent a night in the hospital.
Bruised and bandaged, Frank told the kids in his Sunday school class what had happened and that he was praying for his attackers to turn from evil. With tears in his eyes, he told the third graders that he had forgiven the teens who hurt him.
One July afternoon, Frank got off the bus and was half way home when one of the gang members who had accosted him twice before, stepped in front of him. Frank recognized him but didn’t cry for help or try to defend himself. The boy told Frank he wanted to apologize for hurting him. He said he tried to talk his buddies out of it both times, but they wouldn’t listen.
Frank told him that he had forgiven him and the other gang members long ago. The youth thanked Frank but his forehead wrinkled in confusion as he walked away.
Frank never saw the young man again, but continued to pray for his salvation and asked the kids in his Sunday school class to pray, also.
Two years later, Frank died. At the funeral service, a 20-year-old boy introduced himself to the pastor and told him that he was one of those who had attacked Frank years before, and that he was sorry and wanted to do something to make up for it. The pastor asked him to come to his office the following morning.
“Gregory”, was the name he gave to the preacher. “My mom is a drug addict and I’ve never known my father. I got into the gang when I was 13. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but things escalated and I couldn’t get out. Now I want to do something to make up for my past.”
The clergy suggested that Greg take over Frank’s class on Sundays. It wasn’t too long after that that Greg met and married Julianne. A year after they were married they had a child.
At the baby’s dedication, Greg gave his testimony and announced that Julie and he had named their son, Frank. Greg said that if it hadn’t been for Frank’s forgiveness, he wouldn’t have come to know Christ or Julie.
In his spare time, Greg volunteered at the local mission targeting young men in gangs. And like his predecessor, Frank, Greg shared his testimony and stories about other gang members with his Sunday school class, encouraging them to pray and forgive those who hurt them.
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