A mad man went into a church to shoot. There were 5 casualties, all youths. The youth pastor of the church was devasted and angry. However, when he prayed for God to send judgement upon the man, God told him to go into the prison to minister to the shooter while he is on death row instead. The youth pastor struggled with the idea but went eventually. The shooter was setenced to be hung in five days time.
The pastor went on the first day, saw the shooter, no words could come out from either of them and the pastor could only glare at the killer. The pastor left after fifteen minutes.
The second day, the pastor brought himself to ask, “Do you know who you have just shot?” The shooter couldn’t answer. The pastor went on to say, “Dave was a 17 year old young man, he loves God and plays the guitar. Jeremy is a 14 year old boy, he gives the brightest smile when he greets people at the door. Shannon is a 16 year old girl, very smart, she was looking forward to studying at Australia in the future, she wanted to be a vet. Diana, a 20 year old young woman, aspiring to be a teacher. She teaches primary school students in children’s church. Carina, a beautiful 15 year old with such a heart for the Lord, she has blessed so many people with her notes for people. Did you know that they were people with bright futures and families that cared for them?” The pastor said before leaving.
The third day, the pastor began to share the gospel. He entered the room without even looking at the shooter’s eyes, he recounted the whole gospel. From creation, to sin, to how Jesus died for us to forgive us of our sins. The shooter stayed quiet. After the pastor finished recounting the gospel, he packed up and left.
On the fourth day, the shooter couldn’t understand why the pastor would continually come and visit him and asked the pastor why was he visiting him and don’t he hate him for killing 5 of his youths. The pastor broke down and said, “I hate you and I couldn’t forgive you for killing five young kids. Five of their bright future, robbed. They will never graduate and fulfil their dreams. Heck, I don’t even know if they went to heaven or hell! You took these young people’s lives without even thinking!”
The shooter listened but was still puzzled and he asked, “Why do you still come and talk to me when you hate me this much?”
The pastor replied, “Because even though I hate you, God loves you and wants you to live. I kept wrestling with God, I wished you were dead.” The pastor continued, “But the Lord reminded me that he had forgiven my sins, so he is asking me to forgive your’s.”
The shooter listened and not spoken a word.
The pastor finally said, “My God loves you and forgives you, for killing those five beautiful children. I might never forgive you, but God definitely has. He had sent Jesus to die on the cross for you. This is the truth and I want you to know it that is all.” The pastor finished speaking and left.
The fifth day, the prison called the pastor, they told him that the shooter had passed away. The pastor was shocked because it wasn’t the time for him to be hung yet and thought that he could have talked to him one last time, but he couldn’t anymore.
The prison filled the pastor on the details of the death of the shooter. The shooter had banged his head against the wall continually until he bled to death. With his blood and finger, he wrote “Forgive me” on the ground.
I am sorry for this rather dark story.
I guess I am inspired by something that happened recently. I wanted to portray certain things. One, even pastors/leaders will struggle and wrestle with God. Two, it is honestly really hard to forgive. Three, forgiveness isn’t about you, it is about God. Four, God can forgive even the most dirty sins in our lives. Five, God can use even your smallest act to impact someone. Six, God loves us. Seven, God forgave us. Eight, since God loved us and forgave us, so should we. (Read the parable of the unforgiving servant)
The ending with shooter dying was to me the most realistic. Of course, I would like to have a fairy tale ending. The shooter begs for forgiveness. The shooter got it. The shooter miraculously escaped death row. The shooter goes into church and gets miserably scorned by the congregation, but eventually intergrades onto the church and actually becomes one of the core pastors. I am not saying that that is impossible. However, I am a little skeptical that that would happen.
The other extreme would be that the killer was not even remorseful and actually taunts and angers the pastor. That too could happen but I really don’t want to get into that dark a story.
Truly, Grace can reach the sinner deepest in Sin and can pull him up all the way to heaven.
Dear God, may you teach all of us how to love? 🙂