The man on the left is Mark. The man on the right is Alan.
Mark grew up in an Irish Republican household. Alan grew up in a Loyalist household.
Mark lost both his legs as a teenager in 1976 as a result of the Glengormley bombing by the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force), a Loyalist paramilitary group.
Alan lost his wife in his 20s in 1993 as a result of the Shankill Road bombing by the IRA (Irish Republican Army), a Nationalist paramilitary group.
Both men were victims of The Troubles, a prolonged period of civil unrest and violence in Northern Ireland that cl
aimed the lives of over 3600 persons and permanently injured tens of thousands more.
Mark and Alan were two of the people whom Catherine and I met in Belfast last week. Their stories, along with others we heard during our time there, speak tragically to the cost of hate and violence. The journey that they and others are choosing today speak hopefully about a better way forward together.
At one point in the conversation, I asked them what a shared future looked like. What spoke even more powerfully than their words in the moments that followed were their bodies. It was then that I captured this photo of the two of them, both shifting their weight toward each other and literally leaning into each other as they both responded to the question.
Mark and Alan. Two men who had grown up being taught to hate each other...choosing years later, in spite of the pain and hurt they still carry, to love each other.
This Sunday, we begin a new worship series on The Good Life with a message entitled "Love Freely." I hope you'll be there. There are so many more stories to be told about the transformational work God can do on people's hearts... including yours and mine.
Grace and Peace,