Oct 20, 2014

Redeemed Unredeemable - When America's Most Notorious Criminals Came Face to Face with God

By Thomas R. Horn and Donna Howell

When Forgiveness Seems Impossible

In February 2014, a ten-year-old girl from Springfield, Missouri (within an hour’s drive from Defender Publishing), was kidnapped, raped, and murdered, allegedly by her school sports coach. In spite of several eyewitnesses at the site of the abduction and a long list of mounting evidence (including the body) found at this man’s home only hours after the child was publicly taken from the street, this man is currently awaiting trial with a not-guilty plea. Immediately following the announcement of the girl’s death, a candlelight vigil was held in her memory. Several staff members of Defender Publishing attended this vigil.
The new investigative book Redeemed Unredeemable was being written at that time.

The Candlelight Vigil

Approximately ten thousand people marched at eight o’clock that night. The city of Springfield closed a number of high-traffic roads and coned off many popular alleyways as the crowds pushed in closer around the family in support of this young girl. Scores of those attending were wearing shirts that said, “[Victim’s name] has left her footprint for the world to see.” Every kind of personality, ethnicity, and community group was present and unified under one common moral law; the crowd included conservative and religious families with kids, homosexual couples, the elderly, men, women, children, gothic teens, rough and muscular motorcyclists, city officials, court officials, members of law enforcement, close family members, and friends of the victim, as well as those who had never heard of the girl prior to her murder. 
As the march began, everyone lined up along the sides of the street held their candles high, respectfully allowing the victim’s family to pass to the front, some straining to catch a glimpse of the young girl’s mother, who led the march, others standing still with heads bowed in prayer. The victim’s mother did not cry, nor did she make eye contact with anyone. In a sort of mechanical or survival mode, she simply kept her legs moving, an odd expression on her face revealing devastation edged with a contrasting refusal of defeat. The sniffles of thousands echoed off the quiet buildings along the usually bustling streets. Then, from somewhere in the back of the group, a single, brave voice rose in the silence: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…” The air was emotionally charged as an unspoken determination to remember the girl the way she was in her innocence swept over everyone present. Voices joined in the singing. Candles flickered. Grown men cried. 
Slowly, the people made their way down the street. Apartments, homes, and places of business were filled with onlookers sitting or leaning out of their windows, the lights from the rooms behind them extinguished reverently, their handheld candles swaying with the song. Suddenly, bursts of wild cheering that can only be described as an uplifting excitement dominated the march from one side. As heads turned to find the source of the curious enthusiasm, handmade cardboard signs were hoisted high: “Let him hang!” “We need harsher punishments for crimes against women and children!” Amidst this group was one man who was quickly identified in the waves of whispers preceding his position in the march. It was the prosecuting attorney, a man who had been on the news earlier that day stating that the victim’s legal team planned to seek the death penalty. Although the multitudes continued to sing “Let It Shine” until they reached the end of the road, spontaneous chanting of the victim’s name rose and quieted in response to signs, shouted statements, or relatives of the victim who inspired a more passionate, eager, and fervent reaction from those who came in support. 
Our staff, who have since agreed that one sound from our throats would have uncorked a cascade of choking sobs, marched in silence, unable to sing or chant or cheer while our tears remained concealed only by the sheer force of our will. When the crowds reached the final cross street of the march, everyone grew quiet as one girl stood and sang “Amazing Grace.” The candles were raised again until the hymn was completed. Then, everyone was asked to take a moment of silence. The silence increased into around a full minute as many bowed their heads, lifting up unspoken prayers to whatever higher power they believed in.
Immediately afterward, members of the local motorcycle community offered to give rides for a small fee to raise money for the victim’s family. Attention turned to the tattooed and bandana-adorned men and women, as they regarded those around them softly and soberly, revving their engines. Candles from almost ten thousand hands were then blown out, the waxy smell permeating our senses, and the smoky haze lifting into the light of the streetlamps, wordlessly announcing the end of the march. 
Though there were thousands of footsteps on the ground—and shortly thereafter, the thousands of vehicles were starting all at once across the city—few voices could be heard as the masses headed to leave. It was only after our staff was a mile or so away from the event that we could take a deep breath and gather ourselves. We will never forget that night.
One of many aerial shots taken by the present news crews the night of the candlelight vigil



The issue with criminals giving their hearts to the Lord post-crime and post-incarceration, at least in the minds of most, is the underlying question of whether their conversion can possibly be sincere. Ultimately, of course, that question can only be answered by God. Despite this, many on the outside do hear the stories of these transformations and cast their opinions immediately—without knowing, or even wanting to know, all the details.
The crowds at that candlelight vigil were angry, and to say that they had every right to be angry is the understatement of the century. Anger is a powerful force of human nature, and though it is often destructive, there are times, such as when someone is murdered, when the emotion can inspire change or action toward good. In these cases, anger is even encouraged by many. One might say that we should all be angry when the life of an innocent person is taken for such detestable and selfish gains. (Based on our conversations on the ride home, we at Defender Publishing are also incredibly angry at the person who did this to that little girl.) Without passionate, righteous anger against violent crime, we would have no justice system, for the very meaning of justice is rendered void by the absence of the passion that drives it. 
However, God in His seat on high doesn’t follow the same justice system or emotional patterns as we do. The Bible is clear that He does feel emotion, including anger, and when He walked the earth as a Man, He certainly felt human emotions. According to Scripture, He feels compassion (Psalms 135:14; Judges 2:18; Deuteronomy 32:36), grief (Genesis 6:6; Psalms 78:40; Isaiah 66:10), love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3), hate (Proverbs 6:16), jealousy (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Joshua 24:19), joy (Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 32:41), and yes, anger (Psalms 7:11; Deuteronomy 9:22; Romans 1:18). But where God trumps our finiteness is when the balance of anger versus forgiveness comes into the equation; He has the ability to feel several emotions for every person at once as it is deemed divinely appropriate to Him. His emotions are never limited to our predetermined, fragmented, human expectations. He does not experience “mood swings on high.” He is emotion, and it is only by our humanness corrupting His ultimate design that we move so quickly from one emotion to another or stay longer than we should on a single emotion, never fully understanding His perfect balance of emotions (anger and love) with their corresponding or opposing actions (wrath or forgiveness). 
We, as people and as victims of others’ selfishness, may never find the strength to forgive some acts against humanity.
The same cannot be said of God. 
Can God forgive even the sins of one as terrible as the man who murdered that little girl? What about others like Ted Bundy or David Berkowitz? 
This brings us to an issue that will be addressed once, early on: It is NOT necessarily the opinion of this author that all of the criminals whose stories are included in Redeemed Unredeemable are completely sincere and will therefore spend eternity with God; it is NOT necessarily the opinion of this author that these criminals are insincere and will therefore spend eternity in hell. It is only the opinion of this author that the Bible clearly says that all sins are forgivable (except for two: blasphemy of the Spirit [Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29] and those who take the mark of the beast [Revelation 14:9]).
Read the rest of this article at - http://www.raidersnewsupdate.com/Redeemed1.htm