This is a true story based on several interviews.
David was on duty in a British outpost in Kenya, 1950, when a new and inexperienced commander named Harold was assigned to his unit. After some time, the men in David’s patrol had succeeded in heading off a violent gang, known as the Mau Mau’s, and were waiting in ambush. Flat on the forest floor, the men waited, listening for the crack of a twig, or any sign of the gang’s arrival.
Several members of the gang came into view ahead of them. Harold recklessly leapt up and uttered a war-cry, frightening away the gang at the critical moment. In the same second, David shot and critically injured one of the Kenyans, who escaped.
Harold and much of the patrol went off in search of the rest of the gang, while David was sent to hunt down the man he had shot. He was going along an old elephant trail in fast pursuit, when suddenly the stalks of bamboo parted ahead of him. Military servicemen are confronted with thousands of dangers a day and they know that any mysterious person that surprises them could mean death. David shot at the head of the man rising out of the brush in front of him. This shot, however, would change David’s life forever, for it was his commander Harold he had shot in the head and critically injured.
After being court-martialed for the incident, David completely lost touch with his ex-commander. Still, the victim of his “friendly fire” haunted him. With self-accusing thoughts, he wondered: Had Harold died? Was he crippled? Did I ruin his life? What if…?
Eventually David couldn’t stand the pain anymore. In 1997 he bought a page in the local newspaper, telling his story, with a plea of wanting to find Harold. Although no one in England responded to the article, a man in Cyprus who knew Harold came across it.
Then one day the phone rang and there was a woman’s voice on the other line. First she asked whether she was speaking to David. Then she said, “Brace yourself! You are talking to the wife of the man you shot.” Shocked as he was, David arranged for an appointment to meet her at a restaurant.
When the day finally arrived, not only did Harold’s wife show up, but Harold did too. He shuffled when he walked, but stood straight as an arrow and was totally independent. Stunned, yet jubilant, they celebrated their reunion with a glass of wine. “I don’t remember them ever even mentioning what had happened in Kenya,” David’s wife Marion says. “It was just an accepted fact that they had forgiven each other entirely.”
Before leaving the restaurant, Harold’s wife slipped a prayer into David’s grateful hands:
Oh God, whose never-failing providence orders
All things in heaven and on earth.
We offer our humble thanks for bringing together David and Harold
Today, after so many years.
Grant, we beseech thee, that this meeting may help us
To acknowledge your mighty power,
And that with the grace of the Holy Spirit helping us,
We may fully understand and accept what happened in Kenya all those years ago,
And that the past pain may be truly healed.
Through Jesus Christ,
Yes, David and Harold were truly healed. A phone call, a prayer, the healing power of forgiveness, a miracle – proof indeed of God’s never-failing providence.