Author Archive: directorifi

Shooter, Victim Work Together to Teach Prisoners About Forgiveness

PrisonRTV6-ABC, Indianapolis, IN – Twenty years ago, Misty Wallace was using a payphone when Keith Blackburn walked up and shot her in the face, point-blank. Wallace was a high school senior with a full-ride college scholarship. Blackburn was a drop-out looking to steal a car, and he didn’t want any witnesses.

Blackburn spent nine years in prison while Wallace miraculously recovered and went on with her life, carrying anger and yearning for one answer: Why? Two years after making contact with Blackburn to try to get an answer to that question, Wallace determined that forgiveness was a choice she had to make for her own health.

According to Blackburn, “Twenty years ago I did what she didn’t deserve. Two years ago she gave me what I know I didn’t deserve — I didn’t deserve to be forgiven on this level.”

Wallace and Blackburn now tell their story together as part of the Bridges to Life program, speaking to prisoners about forgiveness and about the lifetime impact of their crimes. They call themselves friends.

“She’s choosing not only to forgive me, but to walk alongside of me and tell this story to others that are struggling with pain and bitterness and anger,” Blackburn said. The two hope to eventually tell their story at every correctional facility in Indiana.

Watch the news report and read the full story: “Shooter, victim work together to teach prisoners about forgiveness, life-long impact of crime”

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Mother of Gina DeJesus Says She Forgives Kidnapper

amanda-berry-and-gina-dejesusNew York Daily News – The mother of Gina DeJesus says she has forgiven Ariel Castro, the man accused of imprisoning DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight as sex slaves for more than a decade.

Asked by ABC’s 20/20 what she would offer the accused kidnapper, DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz, said, “”I would hug him and I would say, ‘God bless you.’ I would say, ‘God bless you,’ and I’d hug him. I did not hate him. I forgave him years ago. I said it: I forgive whoever done it, just let her go.”

Ruiz and Castro have known each other for years, having grown up in the same neighborhood. They would even run into each other occasionally with Castro always offering support to Ruiz and asking her how she was holding up without DeJesus–all the while allegedly keeping her  locked away as a sex slave.

But these disconcerting encounters and years with her daughter stolen away are not enough, Ruiz said, for her to hate another person.

“When you start to hate a person, that eats you up,” she said. “I don’t have time for that. I have to be, you know, I want to be happy, like I am now.”

Read the full story: Mother of Gina DeJesus says she forgives Ariel Castro.”

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Correction Chief’s Widow Offers Forgiveness

Photo courtesy of Colorado Springs, Colorado

Fox 21 News, Colorado Springs, CO – The wife of Colorado’s slain corrections director says he would want justice to be served in his case but would also want forgiveness.

Tom Clements, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was gunned down as he answered his front door in Monument, north of Colorado Springs, in late March. Days later, Lisa Clements spoke at a memorial service for her husband.

Joined by her two daughters, she told mourners that her husband lived his life believing in redemption. “Our family prays for the family of the man who took Tom’s life. And as for the girls and me, we’ll pray for forgiveness in our own hearts and for peace.”

Watch the TV news broadcast: “Correction chief’s widow says husband would want forgiveness.”

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Documentary Highlights Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue and Reconciliation

Two-Sides Story

A just-released documentary, “Two-Sided Story,” highlights the power and possibility of dialogue and reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians. The new film was produce by American Friends of the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a Middle East-based nonprofit that brings together Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families. View the trailer.

The film – directed by Emmy Award winner Tor Ben Mayor – tells the story of 27 Palestinians and Israelis who meet through a Parents Circle project and begin to explore the experiences and narratives held by the “other side.” By listening deeply to one another’s personal stories, rather than arguing over political views, these participants slowly begin to connect and see each other as people first, rather than enemies.

The American Friends of the Parents Circle is committed to holding 100 screenings of Two Sided Story in synagogues, churches, mosques, colleges, schools, community groups, dialogue groups and living rooms all over the U.S. For more information, please email Shiri Ourian at

The Parents Circle – Families Forum is an organization made up of over 600 bereaved families, half Israeli and half Palestinian. Since 1994, the members of this organization – all of whom have lost a family member to the conflict – have undertaken a joint effort in the midst of ongoing violence to transform their incredible loss and pain into a catalyst for reconciliation and peace.

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Mother Forgives Her Daughter’s Abductor

The Telegraph, London, England – Madeleine McCann was abducted from her bed while her family was visiting Portugal six years ago this month. She was three years old at the time and has not been seen since. Her mother, Kate, says she spent years despising the person who took her daughter but that she no longer has to understand the motive behind the abduction to offer forgiveness.

“I think I could probably forgive Madeleine’s abductor whatever the circumstances” Mrs. McCann said in a recent interview. “I don’t know whether it’s simply because I’m stronger or because there’s no benefit in not forgiving someone. I can’t change anything and I don’t want to be eaten up by hatred and bitterness.”

She added, “And maybe there is an element of pity – what kind of person could do something like this? Of course, forgiveness will always be easier if there is remorse.”

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