Could You Forgive a Murderer?

I recently ran across this post on forgivness. Our God is so good and he promises us that, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Even In This

Could you forgive someone who killed your loved one? A few years ago, I reconnected with a long-distant friend on Facebook and phoned her to catch up. She told me about her husband’s heinous murder and the heartache that followed his death which included her grown son’s drug addiction. I sat there, glued to the phone. But it wasn’t the details of his murder or her son’s addiction that captivated me as much as her response to these events.

Time passed and I was inspired as I watched my friend get involved in prison ministries. I asked if I could write her story and share the message of God’s grace and forgiveness with others. This is Wendi’s incredible story Inside Job that was published in the online magazine: Now What?

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53 thoughts on “Could You Forgive a Murderer?

  1. Kairos Prison Ministry is very powerful. I have witnessed it transform many inmates. This article begs the question, would we have that same strength? I don’t know and to know would mean having to experience the atrocity. Well done article.

    • I’ve never been involved in a prison except with my Dad a couple times when he was Chaplin at Angola State Prison in La. This was a repost because I found it so powerful. Out God helps us get through the worst of times. Blessings!

      • I worked in the field for 30 years behind the walls and fences. One cannot be there without seeing God at work in mighty ways. What a tribute to your Dad it would be and ultimately the Lord.

      • Yes, Angola is a bad place. But we must remember God is at work there too and there are many Christian brothers who are there for the rest of their lives. God through us bring them hope.

      • Wow! My dad was chaplain there in the 1990’s. It was sad to see so many graves for those who had no loved ones. Sad to see so many men, young and old, who made a mistake and have no hope. The times I went they wanted to get to know me and have a friend. They are so lonely and desperate. It is such a primed place for the Holy Spirit to move. The men there, who love Christ, are persecuted by those who don’t, yet they set and enduring reminder that in all things, rejoice. I know some of them we will see in Heaven. Would love to see that video.

  2. My husband’s degree is in criminology and he changed from wanting to be a law enforcement officer to get the bad guys (life changes eventually prevented him from pursuing that career) to volunteering for many years with a prison ministry through our church. He looks at those who have committed crimes and made huge mistakes in their lives with more compassion and forgiveness now. He is a better person than I am!

    • It’s hard to forgive, especially such a heinous crime that cause you to lose a loved one. Forgiveness is accomplished only because Christ showed us how. From my own loss, it took me years of hate and bitterness before I gave it all to him. Once I released it and forgave, I was able to move forward. Blessings to Mama!

      • Your post and comment encourages me, Andy, and is so timely (the Lord does use others to give us the messages we need to hear) as I am really struggling right now with bitterness towards someone who deeply hurt one of my loved ones. I know I must allow Jesus to change my heart but oh, it is sooooo difficult, isn’t it?

      • You might try reading a post I wrote about my son in November 3013 in my archives Give Thanks In All things. I’m on my phone right now and can’t give you the link. Your Forgiveness will releases your bitterness, anger and hurt. It took me many years to do it, but once I honestly gave it to the Lord my burden lifted. Oh I think of it from time to time but with His help I can put it behind me. There is too much to live for with my family to be trapped in satans bitterness. 1 Peter 5:10 is a scripture I rely on heavily. Blessings Mama!

      • Thank you! I will check out your post. The verses I cling to just happen to be 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

    • Oh, Andy, I read your post from 2013. I can’t even begin to imagine what you and your family went through in the loss of your son. But oh, the grace and peace of forgiveness that you allowed the Lord to fill your heart with overwhelms me. The words to an old hymn immediately came to my mind:
      O victory in Jesus,
      My Savior, forever.
      He sought me and bought me
      With His redeeming blood;
      He loved me ere I knew Him
      And all my love is due Him,
      He plunged me to victory,
      Beneath the cleansing flood.

      Even though the trial my family has gone through is nothing like the one you experienced, I KNOW the Lord has used you to speak about your own victory over grief, anger, and bitterness to me about my unforgiving heart. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Be blessed, my friend!

  3. It takes a damaged person to take the life of another. My husband and I were talking about this yesterday. I think if we don’t find forgiveness in our souls the pain remains inside us. It take a very strong open heart to forgive. I am a strong believer that we have lessons in our lifetime to go through which can give us both happiness and devastating pain.

  4. I know forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, but man, I don’t know if I could do it for my spouse’s murderer. I would be feeling very eye for an eye for awhile. If someone killed my child, I’d actually WANT them to go to hell. I don’t want to see them in heaven, just like I don’t want to see born-again Jeffrey Dahmer there. I’m not God, so I can’t forgive that. Thankfully, He forgives ALL, but I would struggle. It’s a hard thing to be want to be salt and light to all and then realize nope, maybe not all. Not pedophiles. No matter how they repent. Enjoy eternal hellfire. I’d probably get to heaven and look at God and say, “REALLY?” But if my brain could wrap around God’s motive, then I’d be a god myself, not a lowly human.

    • Well said. That is the humaness we experience daily. It is hard to forgive someone like that, but we are called to do so. Just as he forgave, we must forgive. It took me years to work through my loss but with God’s grace and love I forgave and now, even though I still miss my son, I can move on with my life. That is what God wants for us is to lean on Him. We can never know fully our reaction unless it happens to us. Relying on Him is our only release for anger, hurt and bitterness. If we don’t release that to Him we will never live a fulfilled life. I posted this story because of my own story. You can read my story here:
      https://christiangrandfather.com/2013/11/24/be-thankful-in-all-things/
      Thank you for your open and honest heart.

      • Andy, I wish I could say I came away from that feeling 100% love but it also made my heart harden toward those who did that to your son, to anyone who takes an innocent life, who puts a hole in your heart forever (though I know God can fill it in a different way). It’s certainly a journey. You don’t start out on the forgiveness space and keep moving around the board game, thankful in the pain. I’d have to pass GO a million times before I could even try to process God’s plan on that one.

      • I understand what you are saying. Believe me when I say I passed “GO” for nearly 20 years, dwelling in what at happened. I could not live in forgiveness anymore. I was broken and dying, literally dying. My heart ached so much that it was killing me. I wanted to hate, I wanted revenge, I cared nothing for anyone who tried to comfort me. I wanted to die!!! It was only when I fell in anguish on my knees asking God to take me out of this awful feeling that I realized that I had control over my feelings and life. I could die, and I wanted to, or I could live and go on and be at peace. Peace can only come when I forgive. It doesn’t mean I forget what happened, it means I love and miss my son with a greater intensity, overlooking the stupidity of those who hurt him, and me. I am thankful for your comments and sincere heart. Blessings!

      • Peace that surpasses all understanding. And praise God that you will get to spend eternity with him AND your son. I bet you can’t wait for the reunion.

      • One of the things I remember about my dad was he always said, “there are two things I want to do when I get to heaven, first, sit down with Jesus and ask him all the questions I have. Secondly, see my family spend forever with them.” That’s become my mantra too! Have a super week end. I hope your team wins! I’m pullin for the Falcons but I doubt they’ll win😅

    • I didn’t think I could either. There comes a point after many years where you have to decide, deep in your heart, if you want to carry the hurt and anger and bitterness allowing it to fester and grow, or if you want to release it so you can live a prosperous, and even a healthy life. It took me 20 years to reach that point with the death of my son. You cry inside and out until your physical being cannot function the way it is supposed to. Something has to change. Genuine forgiveness is what heals your body, and your heartache. It doesn’t mean you forget what happened, or that you stop missing and loving your loved one. It means you simply have peace for once, instead of hate and turmoil. I hope you never have to experience this. It is quite trying. Here is the link to the story of my son.
      https://christiangrandfather.com/2013/11/24/be-thankful-in-all-things/

  5. I know it’s the right thing to be forgiving but I don’t think I could forgive someone who have done a heinous crime. If it’s accidental maybe I could try to forgive after years have past

  6. Andy, I have been wanting to write to you since you shared my story but I am not good at putting my feelings into words. First, I am so sorry about your son! So very thankful that you have the peace that you will see him again. Forgiveness is so healing for all involved. I would love to talk with you sometime. Have you shared your forgiveness with the men involved? If not, I would encourage you to. It has completely changed me. It made me sad to read some of the comments about how a murderer shouldn’t be forgiven or let into heaven. Aren’t we all thankful that it is up to God and not us humans! As I have gotten to know these men, their sadness and regret, trust me they live in hell. It was very painful to have to go through all the details again for Karen to write the article and even when I read it, it was like it wasn’t me that, that happened to. I sent the one who actually shot my husband a copy of the article, he has really been struggling. The Christmas card I sent him was the only one he received. He wrote me a two page letter back, so honest about his feelings. I will share two things he wrote. “I’m thankful that you have forgiven me I’m thankful that you’ve let me know I’m forgiven and that you sent me the article. What I am most thankful for is that you have peace” and “before I read your story I use to see these people as just good Christians but from now on I will always look and see them as unique all having their individual stories. Now I know that the people from Kairos have also seen struggles. Know that those cookies really do touch peoples lives. The action of caring about us (prisoners, undesirables and forgotten) gives us hope.” I shared the article with him and told him that God uses us in ways we can never imagine and how he is helping others with healing. I do know this is a God thing 100%, without him I could never have done what I have done or been involved with a prison ministry. I encourage those who think they couldn’t forgive to listen to the song Give me your eyes by Brandon Heath. https://youtu.be/P5AkNqLuVgY.
    Thank you for sharing my story!
    Love in Christ,
    Wendi

    • Hi Wendi! What a wonderful surprise to hear from you! I am blessed by your comment. When I ran across your article it just really hit home with me in remembering my son, John. Have you noticed how many comments I have received from posting your article? God has used your story in so many amazing ways. I have been able to share with others who say they “could never forgive,” about the healing power of our God. I am thankful that you shared your story with Karen and that it is reaching so many people. My Dad was a pastor and missionary. In his final years he was a chaplain at Angola prison in Louisiana, one of the worst prisons in America. I was fortunate that when I visited with him I was able to go inside Angola and listen to him minister to the prisoners and even share with them my life in Christ. These are wonderful men, inside, who made horrific mistakes and now, for the most part, live in regret and sorrow as the man you wrote. I have never written to the men involved with my son because I never knew who they were. It happened in Washington D.C. and I live in MS. My pastor has looked into our church starting a prison ministry but it has not gotten off the ground yet. I anticipate it will in the next few months. We will not go to Parchman, our states largest prison, but will most likely be involved with our local county jail that is large and houses short and long prisoners from around the state. We are Madison County, next to Jackson, our state capital. Our Church is involved in women’s half-way house called Crossroads Ministry. There are many women in the church who work with them monthly. They even held a Valentine’s Party for them this week, lol.
      You are so right that God does use us in may ways. Just like your article reaching so many on my blog and witnessing to them. By the way I love the song you sent. I had never heard it. I am such a people watcher and I get frustrated with people sometimes because I like to say hello when we cross paths. Some will speak, most will not. My wife will remind me that they don’t know me and I shouldn’t be bothered by it. But I often wonder where they are going and what their lives are like. It is a brief encounter but it tells me a lot about their nature. God is so loving and kind and I wonder if they know Him. I want them too. And as this songs says, look into my eyes and let them know that things are going to get better, that God loves them so much.
      If you would like to talk more, you can write me you can reach me at andrewoldham1@gmail.com.

      • I do the same thing, as I drive by someone I try and smile and think about what their lives are like and what they are going through.
        I do not have a blog, writing is not my talent. lol, I am thankful for people like you and Karen who are blessed and using their writing talents to serve God. I am subscribed to yours and look forward to reading your blogs. My email is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
        I am excited that your church is starting a prison ministry. My church is also involved in our local prison. The inmates think we are a blessing to them but in reality they bless us when we see them praising God.

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Andy! I like to think that I would be able to forgive them but I also know that we never really know about these things until we are in that situation. I do know that I have forgiven a few people whom I never thought I would…or could. Forgiveness is a very powerful tool of love!
    Hope that you and your family are well and full of love!😉

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