Hawaii Forgiveness Heroes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Forgiveness Heroes

Gwen Kailihiwa Gwen Kailihiwa
Bryan Yamashita Bryan Yamashita
Roger Epstein Roger Epstein

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - It began as an event to remember the atomic attacks on Japan in World War II. Not focusing on the deaths, but instead the forgiveness afterwards. And on Hawaii Forgiveness Day, hundreds here in the islands learn the importance of letting anger go.

A brutal killing. A violent crime. Then something some found even more shocking.

"I told my family I was going to forgive," said Gwen Kailihiwa, of Waimanalo.

Still grieving the loss of her son, Steven Wilcox who was stabbed to death, this mom makes one of the most difficult decisions in her life. To forgive her son's killer and embrace his family. But by filling up her heart with love instead of hate, her grief has been much easier to bear.

"As I forgave, it made it much easier for my walk today, my path to see things clearly," added Kailihiwa.

The story is just as heartbreaking for Bryan Yamashita. His wife Asa was randomly attacked and killed earlier this year. In the days after her death, he also forgives the killer and discovers the powerful impact of his decision.

"I learned giving forgiveness is not for the offender. Its giving forgiveness for yourself," said Yamashita.

His decision to not be angry over the deadly attack has made a big difference in his life, and he hopes his actions will one day make an even bigger impact on the lives of his young children. Who are still mad over their mothers murder.

"They have a lot of life to live and have this terrible burden of suffering and pain. They have to learn to let it go."

Bryan and Gwen are two of three individuals honored during this day of forgiveness. Accomplishing what many find so hard to do, letting go of the anger.

"Forgiveness is critical to all of our healthy lives and we should all practice forgiveness to live with ourselves," said Roger Epstein, with the Hawaii Forgiveness Project.

Gwen and Bryan's stories are more than just inspiring, there is also hope they will help others to forgive.

"If I want them to forgive, it has to begin with me," said Yamashita.

For those that would like help learning to forgive, there are free meetings held once a month in downtown Honolulu. The meetings are held at 1000 Bishop Street on the 12th floor from 4-6 in the evening on the second Friday of the month.

For more details of the hawaii forgiveness project, go to www.hawaiiforgivenessproject.org or call 808-781-7617.

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