Circle of Good: Loving the sinner

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Our parents and spiritual mentors taught to hate the sin and love the sinner. This haunting story, compelling me to share it. The author is unknown and the facts cannot be authenticated.

Like a biblical parable, the message touches my heart and causes me to think and perhaps change the way I react to the mistakes of others and the ones I make.

In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds him.

For two days they will say to the man all the good things he has done. The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes. The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he has been temporarily disconnected: ‘I am good.’

In the compassion shown to others in their tribal family, these people display the teaching given to us in Colossians 3:12-14:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

How can we change our response to the sinners in our families, churches and communities by meditating on the truths in this story? Our response to ourselves when we sin?

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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5 Responses to Circle of Good: Loving the sinner

  1. Pingback: Need Joy? Latest posts | JOY Alive in our hearts

  2. Diane Roe says:

    This touched me too! The key to this story to me is we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Are we not all God's chosen ones? He chooses us all, we are to respond to Him; to Love, to Beauty, to Truth, to Jesus! Thank you Nancy for sharing.

    • Nancy Ward says:

      Diane, you a beautiful reminder to me of God's image and likeness. You are one who knows how to respond to him in love, beauty and truth. Praise God!

  3. Nancy Ward says:

    Thanks, Leslie. The Colossians value was there, despite the differences in cultures and religious ceremonies.



  4. Leslie Lynch says:

    Nancy, a Facebook friend recognized this story and says it is about the Babemba Tribe of South Africa and their Circle of  Good. It truly is an uplifting tradition, and embodies the values of Colossians. Thanks for sharing it!

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