A PRIEST from Nantwich who helped build the Burma Railway while imprisoned by the Japanese during the Second World War has shared his experience for a new book to encourage others to think about forgiveness in their lives.
The Rev Ray Rossiter MBE, has never ceased in his efforts to help his fellow Far Eastern Prisoners of War forgive the atrocities suffered while working on what has since become known as the railway of death – which claimed 393 lives for every mile of track laid.
The 92-year-old, a resident at the Woodeaves Care Home on Park Road in Nantwich, was an assistant priest at St Anne’s, Sale, Manchester for many years, before moving to the town last year.
As padre to the Royal Air Forces Association (Sale Branch) he conducted the annual Battle of Britain service for 30 years, and preached forgiveness to fellow servicemen nationwide.
"Even years later forgiveness was a taboo subject among our fellows and it wasn’t an easy thing to get across because it’s hard to comprehend just how much there was to forgive," he said.
"We came out of captivity breathing fire and vengeance against the whole Japanese race – all of us believed at that time that it would be impossible ever to forgive them.
“Yet while every instinct may be screaming at us to hate them for what they did, we have to stifle this natural impulse. We can't go on hating forever.”
Ray's story features in ‘Against the Odds: True Stories of Forgiveness and Healing’ by Manchester author, Carmel Thomason.
"People talk about forgiveness all the time, but it can feel quite abstract," said Carmel, whose previous work includes a collaboration with the Archbishop of York, on John Sentamu's Faith Stories.
"When we actually witness it lived out, as Ray is doing, it is life-changing. He shows us by his actions that the happiest people are those who can find it in their hearts to forgive".
Against the Odds: True Stories of Forgiveness and Healing is published by the Bible Reading Fellowship, £8.99, or on Kindle, £7.19.