Have you seen the film Chariots of Fire? Me neither, but it’s about Olympic gold medal winning athlete Eric Liddell. He was born to Scottish missionary parents in China, refused to compete on Sundays, even at the Olympics, and died in an internment camp in China in 1945. He seems to have been a very good man, one who tried to make life bearable for his fellow internees, especially the children.
Josephine Bakhita was born in Darfur around 1869. She was kidnapped by slave traders when she was 7 or 8, and sold five times in twelve years. She was forced to convert to Islam and given the name “Bakhita” by her captors. She couldn’t remember the name her parents gave her. She was beaten and deliberately scarred by her enslavers. She was bought in 1883 by an Italian diplomat who was kind enough <sarcasm> to not beat her, and she became the nanny to his daughter. For safety, Bakhita and the daughter stayed with the Canossian Sisters in Venice. There Bakhita experienced kindness for probably the first time since her abduction. When the Italian diplomat came to claim her, she refused to leave. The Italian court sided with Bakhita, stating that technically, legally, she had never actually been a slave. Helpful. She was baptized as Josephine on January 9, 1890 and took her vows as a Canossian Sister in 1896. She wrote her autobiography, and when asked what she would say to her captors, she replied "If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today". (from Bakhita Tells Her Story by Maria Luisa Dagnino, p 113) Josephine teaches us an important lesson: vengeance, regret, and resentment do not help us move forward. These feelings hold us back. There is a painting of Josephine on her Wikipedia entry and she looks so calm and serene, I can’t help but feel comforted just by looking at her.