This is such a crazy story and one that speaks of how magnanimous one can be with knowing who Jesus is. This is in a nutshell, what I believe.
Again, you will cry, just warning you.
Let me preface, I changed the names but the story is true, very true. We know this family. The man that the story is about is going to visit the man who was convicted for murdering his daughter a few years ago.
"Thursday, 4/21: Joe and his band of 5 worship-warriors drove 4 hours to the a Umatilla Prison, arriving just before 1pm. Joe has never been in a prison before (go figure). So this part alone was a new experience. He eventually landed in a room specifically prepared for this visit. He was seated beside the Visitor Processor, Karen. Karen was skeptical and rather cynically asked Joe “what do you intend to say and what do you expect to get out of this?” Joe expressed that he did not know, just that he prayed God would prepare his heart, and Kevin's, for this meeting. Kevin was to sit across from Joe and a captain-ranked guard was assigned to be standing behind Kevin for the 1 hour that they were allotted together – 1:30-2:30pm. There were windows looking out into the hallway & Joe saw Kevin approaching at 1:30. Their eyes met and then Kevin turned and went the other way. Joe prayed “Father…we’ve come this far…please”. He then saw Kevin returning, he entered the room, Joe stood and shook his hand and thanked him for agreeing to meet. After a few awkward moments, Joe simply engaged him in conversation as he would anyone he was attempting to get to know. Kevin told of his life.
Joe then asked if Kevin had any questions of him. Kevin looked down and began crying and asked “How could you have been so kind to me that day of testifying in court?” He was referring to 2 years ago at the sentencing phase of the trial, when Joe, through tears, faced Kevin and spoke directly to him...expressed that he had forgiven him, held no bitterness toward him, told him that he would have to, one day, stand before the Ultimate Judge and that he hopes someday Kevin will fall on his knees and ask God's forgiveness (remember, Kevin still denies he did this to this day). That day, 2 years ago, he reminded Kevin that he will spend eternity on one side or the other. Kevin's question yesterday opened up the gates of Heaven for Joe to share the redeeming love and forgiveness that Jesus has given Joe through his journey. He was able to share his testimony in brief and through it all they were both weeping. He made it very clear that it was Jesus – not himself – that was able to offer that kind of forgiveness. He was able to tell Kevin that there were 5 men praying just outside the gates and that there were literally 100’s of people praying right now throughout Portland. Joe then asked Kevin how he could pray for him. He wanted prayer for his 15 year old daughter, Lucy. So, Joe prayed for protection and deliverance for Lucy, as well as for Kevin. Joe was able to share stories of how God has used this tragedy to comfort so many others. At one point, through tears, Kevin leaned forward and actually said “I AM SO SORRY”. He was respectful and exclaimed to Joe “You are the most courageous man I have ever met…I don’t know how you can do this”. Once again, Kevin was told…”it’s not me, it’s Jesus”. Kevin's last question to Joe was “what’s your favorite book of the Bible?” How random, from a man with no religious background. They then discussed the book of Nehemiah.
At 2:30 their meeting was over and Kevin was escorted out. Karen turned to Joe and exclaimed “that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen”. The guard then returned to the room and also exclaimed “that was amazing…I’ve never seen anything like that in here”. The guard said that, once out in the hall, Kevin completely broke down weeping and it took several minutes to recompose so that he could enter back into the common area. It would not be good to enter vulnerably in tears. The guard also shared with Joe about the loss of his own son in a shooting 3 years ago.
Joe went in with no agenda, no expectations…just being obedient to God’s call to “go”. God came crashing in and revealed his amazing love & forgiveness available to all mankind.
How’s THAT for an Easter story!? "