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Amazing Twist In Leila And Danny Abdallah’s Forgiveness Story

by | Mon, Nov 13 2023

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The keynote speakers at Monday’s National Prayer Breakfast in Canberra were Leila and Danny Abdallah who lost three of their own children and a niece when a drug-affected driver crashed his ute into the children as they were walking along a West Sydney footpath in 2020,

The Christian couple touched hearts across the country as they almost immediately forgave the driver, despite their inner pain. Guests at the Prayer Breakfast erupted in applause when they revealed the driver, Samuel Davidson, has become a Christian in prison where he is reading his Bible daily and talking to other prisoners about Jesus.

Danny Abdallah began by saying: “I’m a proud father of seven and a half children, three in heaven, four with us, and one in Leila’s stomach that’s due in April. It was the 1st of February 2020 when our lives turned upside down. Seven children got run over by a drunk and drugged driver. Four tragically died. Anthony, Angelina, Sienna and their cousin Veronique.”

“That day I was faced with a question. A question no father should ever be asked. What are you going to do? You can either lose all your family by seeking revenge and remaining bitter. Or you can forgive and only lose half your family. What a tough question! Today, I want to talk to you about the fruits of forgiveness. I forgave the driver that tragically killed our children alongside with their cousin Veronique. And the reason I forgave was I wanted to be obedient to our Lord and Saviour and honour Him at whatever cost.”

“Now looking back. I can tell you the benefits, all the fruits of forgiveness. In our family, our community and in this beautiful nation. This year on Wednesday the 30th of August, I went to visit the driver who ran over my children, Samuel Davidson. It was a Holy Spirit moment. That day I felt the presence of my children around me in the prison. His conversion to Christ blew me away. He is now a Christian that prays every day, reads his Bible.”

“I asked Samuel Davidson, Why? He goes: ‘Because I want what you have. Your act of forgiveness is the reason why I wanted to unite myself with Jesus. I was in isolation as everyone in the prison was furious for the crime I had committed. When the inmates in the prison saw your documentary The Blink of an Eye and witnessed first-hand the act of forgiveness from your family. I was undeservedly left alone.'”

Danny continued: “I was blown away. Some of you here might say, Why would you forgive him? He doesn’t deserve it. And maybe so. But I deserve peace. And my wife and kids deserve peace as well. Sometimes you don’t realise to carry an unforgiving heart becomes a burden on the ones you love the most. Holding a grudge, not forgiving and remaining bitter is contagious. You can quite easily pass it down to your loved ones. Understand that being bitter and unforgiving can disconnect you from the ones you love dearest to you, and more importantly, disconnect you from God. Today. I want to encourage all of you to forgive. To honour our Creator as I did. And I promise you, with perseverance and patience, you will see the fruits of forgiveness into your home, workplace, community, and our beautiful nation.”

Leila Abdallah explained what she did soon after the tragedy: “I went back to the scene and I knelt down and upright like I used to do since I was a young child. I grew up on my prayer. I prayed seven times. The Lord’s Prayer which is the most powerful prayer says Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. The more I prayed it and the more I walked on the scene, the heavier I felt. I felt that I was walking down the stations of the cross. And I saw Jesus on the cross. And I saw him saying. Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they do.

“So when the media approached me, the Holy Spirit took over my body. Because when you pray, it’s our soul that praises to God in a language that we don’t even understand. And the Holy Spirit has moved my life to forgive the driver. And this forgiveness was so true. That was purely my heart at that time. And my forgiveness hasn’t changed. I offered up to him an unconditional forgiveness. I didn’t wait for him to apologise or to say sorry or to be remorseful. To be honest, I didn’t even know his name. It took nearly four months for me and my kids to know his name. We forgave him without knowing his name, without knowing who he is, and without knowing anything about him. To be honest, I never thought that I had the courage or the leadership to forgive. I never thought that I’ll be able to forgive something like that till I had to face it.”

“Forgiveness is the core message of Christianity. Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and to others. Forgiveness will set you free from anger and bitterness. Forgiveness brings you hope and peace. And in our case, it’s bringing us new life and it’s allowing our kids to move forward in life and to dream again. I still look at life with eyes of empathy and compassion. And we still look at life. Life is beautiful. People around us are still amazing. We didn’t allow that accident to ruin our life or to take away more than it took from us. Forgiveness is liberating. It gives you resilience. Forgiveness started in our hearts and it became a movement and a national day of forgiveness, because the world needs forgiveness. Everyone needs forgiveness. Every day I get challenged to forgive.”

Speaker Milton Dick spoke in a similar vein from his position as someone who has great insights into what really happens in Parliament. “The public only see a glimpse of what happens in this building during Question Time each day. But in my role as speaker, I’ve seen incredible kindness in Parliament, kindness that the public don’t always see and kindness that sometimes we’re taught not to show. Kindness and forgiveness. And these are not words of acts of weakness. Kindness and forgiveness are words we should live by. God has taught us we should be tolerant, we should forgive and we should show mercy. And that’s what I see in this building.”

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese: “The strength of our great nation is its diversity, including of faith. But what makes prayer special? It is that it is the common denominator. And in this building, we come together from different walks of life, representing different communities and with different experiences. But no matter what we believe, where we sit in this Parliament or what our stances on any given policy matter, prayer is unifying within this place and outside of it. It is because it speaks one simple language: Love.” She then read from 1 Corinthians 13 before concluding; “I pray that we all leave here this morning positive and energised by our experience of praying together.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton reflected: “Today, our world seems like a much darker place than what many of us have known or can remember in recent times. For many, these have been difficult and dispiriting days. Unquestionably, these troubling times will have tested the faith of many. But for people of faith, it is precisely in testing times when faith matters the most. That serves as a steady hand on the rudder. When our boats are battered by the storms of setback and the winds of woe, faith keeps us on course and helps steer us through hardship. When we’re faced with adversity, faith serves important purposes. Faith lends perspective, specifically historical perspective. In the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses says: Remember the days of old? Consider the generations long past. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he says. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.”

“These biblical passages urge us to maintain our sense of memory, in particular our tragic sensibility. With historical amnesia, our present problems feel unknown and insurmountable. As Paul eloquently wrote in the book of Romans: suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, produces character, and character produces hope. Indeed. Faith encourages perspective, and faith nurtures endurance, and faith also fuels our courage.” Mr. Dutton concluded by praying: “Father, may our faith lend us perspective, endurance, encourage our communal faith, strengthen our individual faith wherever and whenever it may be tested. I’m in.”

To view Leila and Danny Abdallah’s address to the National Press Club click on the timeline of the link below and hit start or click on three dots at bottom right and hit full screen icon:

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