Revenge and Forgiveness
The long blade of the machete glinted as 21-year-old Wilder swung it over his head.
His eyes flashed with anger. He aimed for his stepfather’s neck.
At that moment, his stepfather, Alberto Rui Quaresma, raised his arm, and the blade sliced deeply into his forearm.
Alberto spent the next 24 days in the hospital in São Tomé, capital of the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe off the West African coast. He underwent surgery, and doctors put a metal plate in his arm. He angrily plotted revenge. He would get a machete and cut Wilder’s arm, too.
Wilder wasn’t arrested after his biological father pulled some connections. He had attacked his stepfather over a scolding.
Lying in the hospital bed, Alberto noticed that a woman, Maria Rita, came every day to visit her brother, injured in a motorcycle accident, in the same room. He admired her kindness to her brother and announced one day, “I have fallen in love with you”.
“No”, Maria Rita replied. “I don’t want to have a husband. All men should be thrown in the fire”.
Her reaction surprised Alberto, who realized that she was carrying hurt from a past relationship. He could understand. At the age of 44, he had had three common-law wives, and the son of his most recent wife had tried to kill him.
Maria Rita didn’t want to discuss marriage. She changed the subject to God.
“God is love, and God can change your life and make you a new creation”, she said. “God will help you to forget what happened and forgive that boy”.
After being released from the hospital, Alberto saw Maria Rita occasionally on the street. One day she invited him to attend a 40-day revival meeting at her Seventh-day Adventist church.
Alberto was fascinated by the presentations and was baptized five months later. Later, he proposed to Maria Rita, and she accepted.
Today, Alberto, pictured left, is 50 and works as foreman at a cement warehouse. He also is the treasurer, stewardship director, and Sabbath School teacher at his local church.
He is praying for an opportunity to share with Wilder how God changed his life. The two sometimes meet on the street and exchange greetings.
He laughed when reminded that Wilder tried to kill him the last time they had a serious conversation.
“I’m not worried because God is with me”, he said.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
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