In 1990, Fr Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest and monastic from New Zealand, exiled to Zimbabwe because of his anti-apartheid work in South Africa, opened a package and was immediately struck by the blast of an explosion. The bomb—suspected to be the work of the apartheid-era South African secret police—blasted away both his hands and one of his eyes. His memoir tells the story of this horrendous event, backing up to recount the journey that led him there—particularly his rising awareness of the radical social implications of the gospel and his identification with the liberation struggle—and then the subsequent journey of the last two decades. Returning to South Africa, Lapsley saw a whole nation damaged by the apartheid era. So he discovered his new vocation—to become a wounded healer, drawing on his own experience to promote the healing of other victims of violence and trauma.
Father Michael Lapsley was born in New Zealand and ordained a priest in Australia after joining the Society of the Sacred Mission. The society sent him to South Africa as a missionary in 1973. There he became chaplain to Anglican university students and became active in the anti-apartheid movement, ultimately joining the African National Congress. Exiled to Zimbabwe, he narrowly survived an assassination attempt. Later, he returned to South Africa and participated in the transition to the post-apartheid era.
“What the world is most hungry for is the simple knowledge that healing is possible – not by forgetting or minimising outrages and sufferings but by sheer, obstinate, costly commitment to work with the grain of grace. This is what Fr Michael has demonstrated in so many contexts across the globe, and this book is a wonderful testament to what the gospel can make happen.” Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams