Thursday, 7 June 2012


On Sunday evening, November 20th, 1983, gunmen entered a worship service at Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Assembly in Darkley, Co. Armagh and shot three men dead. 

Speaking at the family farm the sister of one of these men pleaded, 'Let there be no tit-for-tat killings.  In God's name let there be no reprisals.'  The Catholic archbishop of Armagh visited the wife of another victim and said that he had been "most impressed by Mrs. Cunningham's courage, resignation and readiness to forgive her husband's killers."  He described her as a person of "great faith" and pointed out that "the first word on her lips was forgiveness."

At the funeral of two of the murdered men the pastor, Bob Bain, told the mourners that he was confident that God could forgive those who has committed the murders, his rationale being that "after all God has forgiven us.  So why wouldn't he forgive anyone else who repents?"

At the funeral service the congregation finished the hymn that had been interrupted when they were fired on three days earlier. 

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

The press sent reporters when the church was re-opened a couple of months later.  The Irish Press reported,
Pastor Bain reflected the spirit of forgiveness that was evident less than twenty-four hours after the attack when he said: 'There is repentance for these men if they come and repent at the foot of the Cross.  God will forgive them.  I feel in my heart that if they came in here in repentance I would be the first man to pray for them' he declared.
In an Irish Times article entitled, "Darkley Church still prays for the sinners", Fionnula O'Connor further described the service,
"'I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus,' said pastor Bain, pacing up and down, his coat off, his sleeves rolled up.  'I wonder how He could love me, a sinner.  What about you?  Are you outside on such a day of uncertainty?  Just mind [remember] our brothers taken off so suddenly.  Now they are praising him up there.  They've met their Saviour.  If they had not been saved they would have been lost.'"
Around that time a Christian was taking a taxi from his home in Dublin to Heuston Station.  The driver asked him if his trip was business or pleasure.  The Christian explained that he was going to to be teaching on Bible study in Cork, so it was business but pleasant business.

'But do you believe all that stuff in the Bible?', the taxi man enquired.  'Half of it's not even practical ... take the Sermon on the Mount.  All that stuff about turning the other cheek and forgiving your enemies.  Sure nobody really does that nowadays.  It's not practical.'

The Christian explained that he thought that it was practical if you were prepared to also take on board the power that Jesus offered to implement His teaching.  'I think I can prove it to you', he suggested, 'What about the people in Darkley?'

'Ah, but that is different,' the taxi driver said, 'There's a big difference between them and me.  If you looked into it I bet you'd find that every last man Jack [sic] in that place is a believer.  That's why it worked for them.'

The taxi driver had never spoken a truer word.

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