You might have read the article, but you might not remember much about it: A short, heart-warming piece in The Straits Times about a group of prison inmates being allowed to meet their families on Children’s Day (“A rare hug from daddy during special visit to prison”, Oct 8). The celebration was extra special because it was an open visit—the prisoners were allowed to touch, hold and hug their parents, spouses, and children, instead of talking to them through a glass panel as they normally do.

It was touching to read of the tears flowing freely as families were reunited at Tanah Merah Prison, some for the first time in years. For some, it was a time of reconciliation, with the tears washing away the bitterness, anger, and resentment, even if for that precious brief moment.

It’s a heartwarming story, but it really wasn’t big news, was it? At least, not compared to the other headlines about terror attacks, political controversies, and refugees. After all, the news about the open visit really affected only 24 prisoners and their families. If you didn’t know any of them personally, the celebration at Tanah Merah Prison would probably have seemed somewhat inconsequential.

For those 24 prisoners, however, it was everything. The love and forgiveness they received from their families, and the chance for reconciliation, was a life-changing event. And that’s the thing about reconciliation and forgiveness, isnt it? It isn’t really “big” or dramatic news to those who haven’t experienced it themselves. But it’s news of absolute, utter significance to those who have personally seen what it means to be forgiven, and to be reconciled with the one you love.

Is it the same for us, a people forgiven by God and reunited with Him? Do we think casually about His mercy and reconciliation—bought for us with Jesus’ blood and life—and forget it soon after, just as we do with most newspaper articles? Or do we, like the inmates of Tanah Merah Prison, hold on to the wonderful news of the gospel with grateful hearts, infinitely thankful for a privilege we know we do not deserve?

The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair (Luke 7:36¬–47) could not stop weeping because she personally experienced the wonder of God’s mercy. Jesus said of her, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (v.47)

Forgiveness isn’t really big news, it’s true. It’s personal news. And it’s amazing news—news that we want to share it with everyone we know.



Father, I’m sorry if I’ve taken Your mercy and love for granted. Thank You so much for your gift of forgiveness and reconciliation, which Jesus bought for me with His own life. Fill me with a new wonder for this amazing gift today, that I will want to share it with others too.



Forgiveness may not make the headlines,
but it’s the best news every day.


Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

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