Sunday, March 19, 2017

I Was a Stranger, Day 19: Mary Johnson

Today's voice is Mary Johnson, who forgave her only son's killer. Her son, Laramiun Byrd, was shot to death at a party in 1993 by teenager Ohsea Israel. At his sentencing hearing, she hugged him and then became hysterical. "I just hugged the man that murdered my son.” "I felt something leave me,” she said. “Instantly I knew all the hatred, bitterness and animosity—I knew it was gone.”

I'm fascinated by this concept of radical forgiveness (I've read several books on this subject) but I'm not sure if I would be able to ever accomplish this feat myself. Johnson and Israel share their experience around the country as part of "From Death To Life," a nonprofit Johnson founded to provide healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who caused harm. Johnson calls Israel her “spiritual son” and he refers to her as a “second mom.” They even live next door to one another.

Listen to them on this video and see if your heart is changed just a little bit.

Our Lenten hero of the day! Read more of my "I Was a Stranger" entries here.

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