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CBN.com “I remember seeing him laughing and then looking back at the baby. Then there was this emergency stop, just like a big jolt forward. It was so sudden, this jerk. The next thing, I was looking down the barrel of a gun. Within seconds, my life was to change forever.”
Bernadette Power was on her way to Sunday mass in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with her husband, Mickey, and their three young children; Michelle, Gavin, and baby Emma. Up to this point, life for the Power family was going well with no major problems. In fact, Mickey and Bernadette had found new meaning to their faith three years earlier.
“My faith at that time, and I would say that Mickey’s faith, was very much you knew God existed, but He’s way out there somewhere, way out in the cloud far away,” she says.
It was at a women’s church retreat that Bernadette first heard about a God who was not far away and could actually be known.
“The nun started to speak about the person of Jesus Christ, and she spoke with such love that I remember, right at that moment, looking at this nun and thinking, This person knows this Man. This person knows Jesus.” Bernadette recalls. “It was as if the Holy Spirit came down, as if I asked a question directly to my Maker, saying, ‘Can I know You, too, the way this woman speaking?’ And at that point, it was as if an anointing of the Holy Spirit had come down, and it was like a real meeting of my heart to the Lord. I fell in love with Him. In this presence of the Lord, and meeting Jesus in a personal way, He sort of softened my heart that made me question that maybe those choices or those judgments I had passed on others were wrong.”
The conflict between the Protestant Loyalists and Catholic Republicans had divided both communities into enclaves of hatred and suspicion. Bernadette believed she now had the solution for “the troubles” in Northern Ireland.
“I felt that the world needed Him,” she explains, “and I thought, ‘Lord, I’ll go. I’ll go to these people. I’ll go and tell the Protestants, and I’ll go and tell the Catholics, and I’ll go and tell anybody. Wherever You want to lead me, I’ll go.’ ”
The first person she told was her husband, Mickey.
“I say to him, ‘Love, we have to get our lives put right with God.’ And he said, ‘But we all believe in God. Everybody believes in God.’ And I say, ‘I know, but that’s not enough, Mickey. Just say you died tomorrow, I died in an emergency -- are we right with the Lord?”
Bernadette was invited to hear a speaker at a church meeting and convinced Mickey to join her.
Notes Bernadette, “This speaker had started to share about their faith journey and their opening to the Holy Spirit. Through that experience, we came away and I had small booklets that my husband had taken away to read. That night, I say, ‘Well, we’re going off to bed.’ And he says, ‘Love, I would like to read some of this stuff.’
“He started to fast,” she continues. “He started to take seriously faith, and he got a Bible and he started to read the Word of God. The Lord gradually just drew him along. He grew in his faith and just became so aware of his love for Jesus. The Lord had even blessed our marriage. There was better understanding for me for my husband, and my husband for me. I remember actually saying, ‘Lord, I’ve got it all and I have got You.’ The happiness that I had experienced, the joy for better, the joy was at that point of my life.”
On August 28, 1987, life changed drastically for the Power family. Mickey had worked late the night before in his job as a taxi driver. Bernadette was going to take the children to church with her and leave Mickey to sleep in the quiet house.
“He gets up out of bed and he says, ‘No, we’ll go as a family unit to the Lord.’ He had the window of the car down, and he smiled over to my neighbor. He passed a remark to her about it being a lovely day and he was joking with her. He threw his head back and he laughed, just a great, big hearty laugh. I remember seeing him laughing and then looking back at the baby,” she recalls.
Suddenly, the car stopped with a jolt. Bernadette knew something was wrong.
“I remember in an instant looking down the barrel of a gun,” she says. “Within seconds, I was just in a place that I didn’t know where I was. My mind was in trauma and in shock. I remember calling out in the Spirit to the Lord and saying, ‘Lord, something terrible has happened. Jesus, please come’ ”
It was a Protestant Loyalist attack targeted on Catholics. Mickey was mortally wounded. Michelle, whose eighth birthday was that week, was struck in the face and eye with bullet fragments and glass, while 5-year-old Gavin suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh. Bernadette and the baby, Emma, were not harmed. They were all rushed to the hospital.
“My husband died three hours later and the child was away to [the operating] theater,” she says. “The other wee boy, they hadn’t even recognized his injuries yet at this stage. For me, it was outside human.
“The strangest thing was that while all this was going on,” Bernadette explains, “somewhere within the recesses of my being, I could hear -- this sounds really daft, but this is real, I speak this in Jesus’ name -- I could feel like an inner worship of angels or something, and they were singing at this high pitch the Magnificat, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord.’ It went something like, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. In God, my Savior, my soul rejoices.’ This was echoing within me. I could identify that that inner thing that was going on within me was the Holy Spirit. Although I was in fear and trembling, there was an inner part of the Holy Spirit who was keeping things under control.”
Michelle’s eye was saved, but it was too risky to remove all of the glass and lead lodged in her skull. Gavin endured a long recovery of his leg wound. Mickey’s murderer was never found. Bernadette now faced a life without her beloved husband and a burden she felt was too much to bear.
Notes Bernadette, “I mean, I’ve argued with Him, ‘Lord, what do You mean Your burden’s light? Hold on a wee minute. My yoke’s not easy. My burden’s heavy.’ But if the Lord makes a statement, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden’s light,’ I believe that what He’s trying to say is, ‘I’m not asking you to carry this on your own, but with Me all things are possible. With Me, I can bring you from your crucifixion into your resurrection.’ ”
Bernadette has reared her children not to be vengeful or bitter about their father’s murder. She speaks to groups on both sides of “the troubles” and tells them about her trials and how God has brought her from a personal “crucifixion” to a public “resurrection.”
As for the man who took Mickey’s life, Bernadette says that she has only one desire for him.
“I have prayed, ‘Lord, whoever this man is, give him the chance of salvation, too, of forgiveness. Give him that awaken-ness. Give him the opportunity to either say yes or no to You,’ she says.
“I know that it’s not by ourselves that we can say forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about a feeling. You don’t feel good about forgiving. Forgiveness is about making a decision. I decide to forgive this person who has wounded me, or in my situation, who robbed me of my husband, who robbed my children of a father. I know that it’s only been in God’s grace that the bitterness never settled in my heart. You have to walk the walk. The walk is walking the pain. It was sin that killed my husband. Someone made a choice and decided to murder my husband. What the Lord did for me in that was He stood up in my story and He said to me, ‘I’ll walk with you and carry you in this.’ What the Lord, I believe, did was He turned the thing right round and He brought a lot of good out of our situation when I trusted in Him. The Lord, He never left me. The Lord never left me,” she states.
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