Author Archive: directorifi

Mother Forgives Woman Who Kidnapped Her Daughter 17 Years Ago

WOG Blog, Women of Grace.com – A mother who was reunited with her daughter more than 17 years after the 3-day-old baby was snatched from her arms, has forgiven the kidnapper and thanked the woman “for giving her a good life.”

Celeste Nurse was only 20-years-old when she delivered a baby daughter by Caesarean section in a Cape Town, South Africa hospital back in 1997. Two days later, as she was holding the baby in her arms, Celeste dozed off. When she woke up, she learned that her daughter–whom Celeste and her husband Morne had named Zephany–had been kidnapped by a woman disguised as a nurse.

Tears 2

Celeste and Morne never saw their daughter again until earlier this year when their 13-year-old daughter Cassidy started high school and began to talk about an older girl she’d met ‘who looks like us’ and, despite the age difference, had become a very close friend. After some investigating by Morne and local police, a DNA test confirmed that the girl ‘who looks like us’ was indeed Zephany Nurse.

Zephany’s now-50-year-old kidnapper is due to appear in court next week. The woman told authorities that she had suffered a stillbirth shortly before snatching Zephany, whom she was able to breastfeed and pass off as her own, never confessing the truth to a soul–not even her own husband.

Even though the woman who kidnapped Zephany denied the Nurse family the joy of raising their child, Celeste says she has forgiven her.

“What she did was very wrong, they’ve been living a lie for the last 17 years, but I forgave her some time ago,” Celeste says. “Undoubtedly we will meet, and I will thank her for taking care of my daughter. Zephany has had a good life with her – my daughter is beautiful, inside and out, she’s kind and clever – they did a great job.”

Read the full story:
1) Need a Happy Ending? Read This! (Women of Grace.com)
2) Mother reunited with daughter nearly 18 years after newborn was snatched from her arms in hospital incredibly THANKS the woman who stole her ‘for giving her a good life’ (Daily Mail, London)

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I am doing a project on the psychological and physiological effects of forgiveness and would love to know if you know testimonies of people who have physically become healthier as a result of forgiveness?

There are a good number of such testimonials available by searching the Internet for websites like ours: www.internationalforgiveness.com.

For example, on the Why Forgive page of our website, you’ll find an article and a link to a short video about the amazing power forgiveness has had on one woman’s life and her battle with cancer. “If I hadn’t learned to forgive,” Jayne Valseca says, “I may not even be alive today.” Watch the video here.

On the “Forgiveness News” page of this website you’ll find a post entitled: “Forgiveness Saved My Life” says World War II Army Veteran Louis Zamperini who was Immortalized in the book and movie ‘Unbroken’.

In an interview following the release of his book, he said: Well, when you hate somebody, you don’t hurt them in the least. All you’re doing is hurting yourself. But if you can forgive—and if it’s true—you’ll feel good. It’s chemical. White corpuscles flood your immune system, and that’s a secret to good health.” Click on either of the two links above to read more.

Finally, I refer you to one of the many scientific studies Dr. Enright has conducted; this one published in the journal Psychology and Health: “The effects of a forgiveness intervention on patients with coronary artery disease.” The study results demonstrate and document that forgiveness intervention was an effective means of reducing anger-induced myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease.

All Dr. Enright’s Peer-Reviewed Empirical Studies, with links to each of the full study reports, are also available on this website, at either of these links.

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Forgiveness Education Thrives at Mar Elias High School in Israel

When teachers at the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (MEEI) recently focused lessons on the benefits of forgiveness, some students couldn’t see the point. They vehemently opposed the idea of forgiving anyone, even in their own families, but especially after the 7-week war of 2014.

Mar Elias Students

Mar Elias High School Students

Although Building Peace on Desktops is MEEI’s highest goal, teaching skills for peace-building can be a challenge – especially when students encounter discrimination and hear news of violence on almost a daily basis. 

This year, thanks to a Pilgrims of Ibillin partnership, MEEI teachers have a new resource: a Forgiveness Education curriculum created for Northern Ireland, tested and refined there over the last 14 years. The creator of this curriculum is Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founder  of the International Forgiveness Institute. 

An internationally recognized leader in the field of forgiveness education, Dr. Enright has visited Ibillin twice in the last 8 months to meet with teachers and introduce his forgiveness curriculum. With his guidance, eight high school teachers at MEEI began teaching forgiveness this school year, involving about 600 students in the lessons.
Dr. Enright plans to increase his involvement in training MEEI’s teachers, and MEEI will become a regional training center to offer Forgiveness Training to other schools in Israel/ Palestine as well:
     • On a return visit in June he will meet with MEEI’s elementary and high school teachers for a day of exploring more deeply what forgiveness is and is not.
     • Four other directors of regional schools will be invited to this in-service training, with invited leaders coming from both Arab and Jewish schools.

     • Mar Elias will begin planting forgiveness education deeply in the 9th grade curriculum next year and then continue over the coming years until it is instilled for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is from the Feb. 2015 newsletter of Pilgrims of Ibillin–an organization whose vision is to foster peace and justice in Israel-Palestine through education. Dr. Enright was introduced to the organization and Mar Elias Schools by the Rev. Joan Deming, Executive Director of Pilgrims of Ibillin.

Pilgrims of Ibillin was founded by Abuna Elias Chacour (“Abuna” means “Our Father” in Arabic), a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who recently retired from serving as the Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church for Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee. He is also the author of the best-selling Blood Brothers which has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Father Chacour founded the Mar Elias Schools more than 30 years ago in Ibillin–a small Arab village in the Galilee region, near Nazareth, where Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. The cluster of MEEI schools now serves more than 3,000 students from preschool through high school.

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Mother Forgives Suspects in Fatal Shooting of Her Daughter

The Fresno Bee, Fresno, CA – The mother of a 9-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet fired in a gang shootout said she forgives the men responsible and hopes “they can find peace in their hearts.”

Stacey Gonzales and her daughter, Janessa Ramirez, were chatting with friends in front of a Laundromat on Jan. 18 when Janessa was hit by the stray bullet and soon after died at a local hospital. Brian Cooks, 22, andForgiveness Isaac Stafford, 19, were arrested and charged with murder less than two weeks later. It was Gonzales’ forgiveness that broke the case open.

“When our detectives told Brian Cooks, ‘Janessa’s mother has forgiven you,’ he broke,” according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. “And then he began to tell the truth (about firing the fatal shot). Forgiveness is powerful.”

Gonzalez told reporters, “I forgive them, and I love them, and I hope they find the Lord … Because now I have my full peace. My baby is in a better place.”

To explain her actions, Gonzalez added, “Think of Janessa. She wouldn’t want people fighting and being mean to each other. Learn to forgive, but don’t forget Janessa.”

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New Book Means “Forgiveness Therapy” is Now Professionally Sanctioned

Forgiveness, as taught and practiced by clinicians in healthcare practice, took a huge step forward this month with the publication of a new book co-authored by IFI founder, psychology professor, and licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Enright.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has just published Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope by Dr. Enright and psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons. Publication of the book by the APA signifies that Forgiveness Therapy is now professionally sanctioned and rightfully taking its place alongside such historically-accepted therapies as Psychoanalysis, Humanistic Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–a huge step forward for forgiveness.

Forgiveness Therapy is actually a Forgiveness Therapynew and updated version of a previous book by Drs. Enright and Fitzgibbons. It is the second edition of Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide to Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope that was published in 2000.

Benefitting from more than 14 years of new research, the second edition of this title is a vital tool for clinicians interested in this unique method of therapy. Featuring entirely new chapters, the second edition also expands all of the text with new case studies, new empirical evaluation, modern philosophical roots of forgiveness therapy, and new measurement techniques.

From their 30+ years (each) of practicing Forgiveness Therapy, Drs. Enright and Fitzgibbons have demonstrated that forgiveness is a pivotal process in helping clients resolve anger over betrayals, relieve depression and anxiety, and restore peace of mind.

In this new volume, clinicians will learn how to recognize when forgiveness is an appropriate client goal, how to introduce and explain to clients what forgiveness is and is not, and how to provide concrete methods to work forgiveness into therapy with individuals, couples and families.

The book can be purchased at Amazon.com or on the APA website.

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