Although it is not yet ANZAC Day here in Toronto, it is in Australia. This is the first of such days that I have remembered outside of Australia. I think it's also the first that I have properly understood.
For those who don't know, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and ANZAC Day is celebrated every April 25th, commemorating the first soldiers' landing in Gallipoli in WWI. It has, over time, become a day that invites Aussies and Kiwis to recognise the significance of all those who fought for and defended our country.
My grandfather (whom we called "Dadda") was one of those men. He changed his age in order to protect his country in WWII, and at twenty-one (my age now) was taken as a prisoner-of-war in the Pacific Islands. Many of his comrades didn't make it out alive due to the harsh conditions that they were forced to live in - Dadda wasn't expected to live past forty, have children or ever live a normal life again.
In God's providence, Dadda went Home last October, at the ripe-old age of 87 (the Australian cricketer's unlucky number, as he would remind us!), leaving behind a wife, six children and a brilliant Christian legacy for the Coller family. It was that last part that struck me once again today, as I was able to witness to a 67 year old Japanese man who does not yet know Christ.
It struck me that this conversation that I had with the man (his name was Ken) was evidence of amazing forgiveness. It was the Japanese that had brutalised Dadda, killed many of his friends and given him nightmares for years following the war. Following these events, the easiest, most natural and most justifiable reaction would be to hold on to whatever animosity and hatred that was surely felt towards them during the war years. Dadda, humanly speaking, had every right to pass on a disgust for the Japanese that would have been handed down to my father and thereby to me.
But Dadda didn't react humanly. I'm sure in his mind this never ceased to be a struggle for him, yet outwardly he handed down to his children and grandchildren a legacy of love (because God first loved us) and forgiveness (because we have been forgiven much). As if to force this forgiveness in Dadda's own heart, God went so far as calling my aunty (Dadda's youngest child) and her husband to be missionaries in Japan, where they served for seven years.
Then today I was able to speak about Jesus in a situation that might have seemed impossible two generations ago, if it weren't for forgiveness. I am indebted to Dadda for the sacrifices he made to defend my country,
But even moreso, I am indebted to him for the Christ-like example he set for his whole family, through circumstances that, God-willing, I will never even come close to experiencing.
Lest we forget. Lest we forgive.