Here’s a recent email update from my buddy Anthony Wood – the evangelist for North Little Rock’s urban outreach to the poor and homeless called River City Ministry. My dad serves as the executive director for RCM, and the guy that held that position before him was my brother-in-law. I sort of grew up around it.
Anyway, check out this note from Anthony:
Lord, he grabbed me by he arm and said, “I need prayer, I need you to pray for me, I need you to pray with me.” As he stood, staring intently for my response, holding back the tears, I said, “C’mon let’s go to my office.”
I sat to settle in for what I believed would be a long talk. Dan was just that way. “No sir, this kind takes gettin’ down on my knees,” he mumbled. And, Dan went to praying as he painfully got down on his knees. He’s old, and walks with a cane and a bad limp. But, Lord, did he pray. You were there. You heard him.
“O God what did I do, I know it was wrong, I didn’t mean to do it, I repent O Lord, I can’t bear this burden, I know Jesus You died on the cross so I could be saved, Lord I want to be saved, the weight is so heavy, Lord, O God why did I do it? You only can save me, take away my sin Lord, my Lord Jesus, O my Lord Jesus, I can’t bear it, please forgive me for what I done, Lord Savior, Christ, You are Messiah, I can do nothing Lord Majesty, unless You let me, I can’t come back unless You let me, blessed be Jesus’ name, my God, my Lord, my God, my Lord, my God, my Lord, be merciful to my soul, I commend my soul to You, I trust You O Lord. Lord Majesty, reach out to the whole world, so they can be healed, so they can say ‘Praises to the Lord.’” And Lord, You know that’s just a small part of all that he prayed.
He prayed with all his heart, he prayed like David did in the Psalms. His tears were thick. He called on You, he cried out to You, he begged You, and lamented like an Old Testament prophet.
Lord, did You listen? Did You receive his prayer? Did You forgive Dan for killing Beatrice? I knew Beatrice. He murdered Beatrice. Without mercy.
You see Lord, Dan got drunk, got mad because Beatrice didn’t want him anymore. Dan lost who he was, and when she came to get the last of her stuff, he killed her right out on the front lawn a block and a half away from RCM. He stabbed her many times. She bled to death, right there on the grass. Now, Dan felt stabbed, many times, it wouldn’t stop, there was no stopping it. The stabbing went deep. In his soul. Deep in his soul. And, Dan, he couldn’t stop the pain.
I could, if I chose to, ask, “Well, was he sincere or just high, was he being real or just drunk, is he truly sorry or just wanting his guilt to go away . . . ?” I actually heard someone say some of that today. But, I won’t. I refuse. I was raised to do so, but You healed me of having to judge others, because You showed me that in my judging, I’m truly the one being judged. And, I don’t want that either. You showed me through a difficult time, that I deserved judgment, not mercy, but in Your love, grace, mercy, and peace, You didn’t give me what I truly deserved.
It’s just so easy to judge another’s sincerity when it’s not my sin, when it’s not my life that’s out in the open. I’m glad You know, O Lord, what is deep in a man’s heart, for You are God and I am not. I’m glad You know what’s deep in Dan’s heart, for You are God and I am not. I’m glad You know what’s deep in my heart, and truly, that’s all that matters, for You are God and I am not.
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her . . . You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one . . . (John 8:7, 15, NIV).”
Anthony Wood, Evangelist
You know, Dan ought to be very thankful for murderers.
No, I’m not saying the act of murder is a good thing – its evil.
But think about it – a good chunk of the Bible was written either by or about murderers. Moses – the man who wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, who gave us the old Law from God, and led the nation of Israel toward the promised land was a murderer. King David – the most revered Israelite king of all time whose righteous rule ushered in Israel’s golden age and who the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart” was, in fact, a murderer. The apostle Paul who wrote the majority of the New Testament and whose early missionary efforts planted more churches than any other single person in the first century eventually leading countless numbers to Christ was a murderer of early Christians.
God didn’t just forgive those murderers – he used them to impact the world in such a way that you and I along with our children and our children’s children are the beneficiaries.
To Dan – murder is a horrible sin, but with repentance comes forgiveness, with forgiveness comes sanctification, with sanctification comes Christ-centered purpose, and with Christ-centered purpose comes God’s power to change the world for the better.
P.S. – if you’d like to receive Anthony Wood’s MissionMessage updates, email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to his email list.