When a man says he’s sorry on behalf of those boys

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I’d given my book Thin Places to the people at my table group at Cape Town. Towards the end of the 8-day conference, one of the men in my group approached me. “I’ve been reading your book,” he said. “And I’d like to talk to you.”

We sat away from the hubbub. He told me God had been prompting him to say something to me and that he’d learned over his years with Jesus it was better to obey. He found that those promptings were God-breathed.

And then he said those words.

“On behalf of all men, I apologize for what those boys did to you.”

My heart stopped.

He continued to say how wrong those boys were, how violating, and that as a man, he felt the weight of their sin. “I am sorry,” he said.

His words washed a dark part of my heart, an angry, helpless part. His words shed light on a corner I’ve tried not to linger in. That places of devastation, innocence stolen. He asked if he could pray for me.

I nodded.

I don’t remember the words of his prayer, but I remember the way they made me feel. Cleansed. Heard. Validated. All the opposite things I felt thirty-eight years ago when those boys stole my dignity under tall evergreens. I was so young to lose it all.

Five.

Years.

Old.

And now at forty-three, I’ve heard the tenor of grace from my new friend’s mouth. “I am sorry.”

All I can do is fall on my knees, thanking the God who loves me enough to prompt a man to say such words. Thank You Jesus. Thank You.

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