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Innocent Plagiarist

Wednesday, 24 June 2020, 09:07 — A good friend of mine, Jens, requested prayer via our prayer meeting text group:

Good morning. Please pray for us. Cassy was (totally unlawfully) accused of plagiarism for a project she did. She copy-pasted the official plagiarism declaration of her university into her assignment—as required by university policy—and this was flagged by the system as plagiarism. Some of her friends were also accused. The obstinate lecturer refuses to respond to any communication. The trial is next Tuesday. Please pray for justice in this matter.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Cassy’s university classes went online. As students work remotely without supervision, it’s undoubtedly a challenge to ensure their work is original. This particular subject was Machine Design; her least favorite Industrial Engineering subject. This time-sensitive assignment would count as a test. A text message received during the test instructed them to not include the official plagiarism policy. Cassy and some of her classmates chose to rather comply with official university policy, which requires a copy of the policy included inside assignments. When the results came, Cassy’s assignment was flagged for plagiarism and given a mark of 50 percent, despite her answers matching those of the answer sheet. The system had flagged the anti-plagiarism policy text.

Even though the situation was obviously due to system error, the lecturer refused to overturn the ruling and properly score the assignment. According to Jens, his daughter maintains a very high standard of integrity, making this false accusation exceptionally distressing for her. He said the matter also greatly upset them as parents, for whom honesty and integrity are non-negotiable. After several emails went unanswered, they turned to God. Besides praying about this themselves, they also turned to fellow believers for prayer. A medical doctor in our group said: “We are also interceding . . . God is her Judge.”

That morning, our family also prayed for Cassy, her parents, and even for her sister. In my spirit, I could feel that the injustice of this false accusation had hit them hard, causing offenses. After we prayed, I waited on God for His Word.

09:57 Heavenly Father, what is Your will and Word regarding Cassy’s situation where she faces this accusation of plagiarism?

09:58 My son, say this to them: Forgive. Come and wash your hearts of this filth and forgive until this enemy is blessed by you before Me. In so doing you will hand the matter fully into My hands, not holding any judgement or malice in your hearts and imaginations. Forgive again and again, each time the matter arises. Do not relent, but forgive until you are cleansed and remain clean. Your victory lies in this matter being fully in My hands. Do not only pray for the victory you need, but come in humility and forgive, loving with My love. I shall arise on your behalf. I shall turn this away from you and it shall not touch you. You shall only see it from afar but not taste it; not have the bitterness in your mouth nor the poison in your stomach. Remain in Me and I shall fight in your stead. Shalom [10:03]

Jens received this Word with much thanks. He later admitted his own struggle in this matter. As Cassy’s father, he desired justice. By his own admission, he was tempted to make life very difficult for the lecturer. Jens had even plotted several excellent plans to ensure the lecturer was brought to justice. In other words, revenge was being schemed.

When the lecturer eventually responded, he agreed to reduce the “punishment” of the “guilty” students. Some of them received slightly better marks. Those who didn’t get zero were absolved from attending the trial but without the false accusation of plagiarism being retracted. It was an unfair compromise; the injustice still standing.

On Saturday, 27 June 2020 at 09:27, a lady in our prayer group posted: “I have great peace about this matter… has the misunderstanding been resolved yet?”

To which Jens replied:

The matter hasn’t yet been resolved. It appears that the lecturer is now trying to sidestep the matter—by not dealing with it. He wrote that only students who got zero should attend the hearing. Cassie didn’t get zero. There is no exculpatory letter that this charge was withdrawn against her. It’s important for us to restore her name and protect her reputation. The wrongful complaint must be withdrawn unconditionally. We prayed for the lecturer this morning and trust the Lord will handle the matter.

Shortly after Jens gave this update, I felt inspired to share with them God’s victory declaration for this matter.
Friday, 26 June 2020 at 00:45 — As I prayed for Jens, his family, and especially Cassie, God said this:

00:46 My son, they are safe. I have already brought a victory to them.

God’s Word assured a positive outcome. Several days later, on 30 June 2020 at 10:21, Jens announced to us all:

Amen—and so it came to pass. The hearing just happened and the case was withdrawn.

This wonderful news was followed by praise to God from several people in our chat group:

Praise God!!
Praise Abba!!!
He is faithful!
Praise the Lord for doing what He spoke to you.

By not attending the trial, some students failed to defend themselves. Cassy decided to clear her name of wrongdoing. At the trial, she spoke for herself, with her family in attendance. Even though the lecturer agreed there was no plagiarism, Cassy had to specifically request the accusation of plagiarism be expunged from her record.

On Thursday, 2 July 2020, Jens shared how God changed his heart and turned the tide:

My personal breakthrough came on Saturday morning when we prayed together as family, laying this matter before God. God’s Spirit placed on my heart a great compassion for the guilty lecturer and a powerful prayer of intercession was made for his soul and general wellbeing. What an absolute joy to align ourselves with our Father’s heart!

This was a wonderful experience of the Lord coming in and giving and helping—and the importance of forgiveness and faith. And of course the works of faith: it was still necessary to drive the matter (in faith) to the correct conclusion. Faith without the works was dead, as with many of the other students who did not go to trial and still have on their records an unsolved plagiarism complaint.

After first completing her exams, a little over two weeks later, Cassy shared what this plagiarism incident had taught her:

This whole situation has really shown me something about the Lord’s character and His heart towards us. Although He is a God of justice and righteousness, He is also a God of love. After being charged with this offense of plagiarism, my first reaction was that of anger and resentment, but I quickly realized that this was not the way God wanted to deal with this injustice.

Psalm 25:9-10 says:
He will guide the humble in justice. He will teach the humble His way. All the paths of Yahweh are loving kindness and truth to such as keep his covenant and His testimonies.

I realized that if I was humble before the Lord and willing to do this His way, He would lead me to justice. Not only did He want to deliver me from harm, but I felt like He wanted to show the lecturer a glimpse of His love and kindness as well through the way we handled the situation. This incident was not only about me—God had a bigger plan. I had to let go of my own ideas, choose to forgive the lecturer, and trust that the Lord will win this battle for me.

In the end, He did prove faithful and His promises true. The charge against me was dropped and the lecturer even offered to re-mark my paper. Looking back, I think of this event as a blessing through which the Lord has shown me how He protects and delivers us, as well as His ability to turn seemingly bad circumstances into a chance to get to know Him better and illustrate His amazing love to someone else.

Cassy and her family made work of bringing this matter before God, when it mattered most. Despite anger and offenses afflicting their hearts, they restrained and humbled themselves, aligning with God’s way in thought, word and deed. They asked for prayer from their close circle of fellow believers and humbly welcomed God’s instruction. They took His promises for their crisis to heart and cast their burdens upon Him. This was far more than seeking justice, restoring a tarnished reputation, and receiving rightly deserved test results. More crucially, they forgave the offending lecturer and prayed God’s blessing over him, loving their enemy.

This plagiarism matter could have worked out far differently. Without God guiding her in forgiveness, this young student may still be sitting with a hard block of hatred lodged in the foundation of the life she’s embarking on, gnawing at her core. How would that chunk of unfair treatment and false accusation have shaped her future self? The ripple of offense had already interfered with her immediate family, inciting vengeful plans against her lecturer.

Instead, they invited God to halt evil, to dislodge and remove offense, to cut off thorny wood and rather cultivate branches bearing desirable fruit. How far will God’s love, grace and compassion continue to ripple? This is light shining into darkness.

What if Cassy and her family failed to forgive and love their enemy? What if they failed to forgive and love during every incident before and after this? Who would they be before God? Who would they be in society? How far in space and time would destruction continue to ripple outward from them toward all the lives they touch? What if others in society also fail to forgive and love? Globally, how many offenses remain undealt with; the harm further propagated and the perpetrators left unforgiven? How much destruction ripples through our respective societies daily? The law cannot stop, contain, or undo these insidious ripples—only the truth, power, and love of God can.