This past Sunday I was blessed to moderate a conversation with Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel. Oshea murdered Mary’s son in 1993. He went to prison. While he was in prison Mary visited him and eventually forgave him. When Oshea was released from prison he moved next door to Mary. She has adopted him as what she calls her “spiritual” son.
The interview was remarkable. Check it out at: http://vimeo.com/86263115
I have shared with many people that I had the opportunity to see the gospel in action this past Sunday. It’s hard to believe that a woman could forgive and ultimately reconcile like Mary has with Oshea.
She demonstrated the best parts of forgiveness. She hasn’t forgotten what happened; she hasn’t excused Oshea for what he did; she certainly hasn’t ignored the pain that she has had to endure. When Oshea first went to prison Mary described him as an animal. She wanted him to be locked up for the rest of his life.
Mary has founded From Death to Life, an organization dedicated to ending violence through the facilitation of healing and reconciliation between the families of victims and perpetrators. They publicly bear witness once a month on the north side of Minneapolis in support of mothers who have had a children who has had life taken.
Tomorrow the world is going to celebrate Romantic Love on Valentine’s Day. I think Mary’s action of forgiveness is more in line with the love Jesus had in mind and wants all of us to live out.