Thursday, March 26, 2009
Can People Really Change??
Tears were streaming down my face this morning as I heard the story of a pastor in New Hampshire who has recently allowed a former inmate and convicted child killer--and convert to Christianity--into his home for a few months while the man (Raymond Guay) gets back on his feet after serving 35 years in prison. (click here for full story) Raymond met Jesus while in prison in 1993, and has only returned to this community after being ordered by a judge to spend his time there while on parole.
What completely broke my heart was how the entire community, and specifically his neighbors were re-acting to this great Christ-like act of the pastor and his family. Every time Raymond steps out of the home, someone fires a warning gun shot and yells and screams at him. They have a tent set up across the street so someone from the neighborhood can continually watch Raymond. People in town have posted signs in their yards saying "no kid killers". Neighbors are not allowing their children to go outside to play by themselves, and have tried to get officials in the town to kick out Raymond Guay. They are also purchasing firearms. Not only that, but Pastor Dave Pinckney has received several threats, including one threatening to burn down his house.
Now I want to get one thing completely clear-what Raymond Guay did in the past was in every way completely wrong. He murdered a little 12 year old boy for no reason, which brought on a lifetime of grief and pain for this boys family. I can not even imagine how terrifying it would be to go through something like that. Does what Raymond did in the past mean that defines who he is for the rest of his life????
When Good Morning America interviewed people in the neighborhood, they asked people if they thought Pastor Dave was doing the right "christian" thing. Their responses shocked me. One woman said "I'd say there are more deserving people to give second chances to. The child he murdered doesn't get a second chance. His mom doesn't get a second chance."
The sister of the murder victim was quoted as saying "You don't shoot a little boy in the face and find Jesus. A person who can do that is just not capable of that."
The pastors response to the threats is this: "I think people change. If people don't change, the Gospel has no merit," he said. "And we're kind of a hopeless society if we don't believe people change."
I simply can not believe that other Christians may feel like this act of grace was unmerited. When you look at the life of Christ--the very people He chose to hang out with were the worst "sinners" of that time. People can and they do change all the time by the love of Christ. I may not have killed anyone in my past, but I am a different person because of God's love. I have met countless people who have been radically changed by the love and sacrifice of Christ. I am praying today for Raymond, Pastor Dave, and his family as well as the Zimmerman family who are still feeling grief and pain. I hope that there will be others in the town who will show the love of Christ in this situation. If we do not show compassion and mercy, how can we truly be called a Christ follower?