Forgiveness News

Mother of Slain Son to Visit Murderer Before His Execution in Texas

Dayton, Ohio. Sherrie Lackings plans to travel to Texas prior to the execution of the man who murdered her son in 2002. Her primary reason is to offer the man forgiveness before he is executed. The meeting is being set up by the victim/offender mediation dialogue program of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

It was a crime so horrific that it would challenge the limits of any mother’s forgiveness.

On Halloween 2002, Marcus Druery lured 20-year-old Skyyler Browne to a party at his family ranch in rural Brazos County, near College Station, Texas. Without warning Druery shot him point-blank in the head, throat and back, then poured gasoline on his body and set it on fire. Druery paid two stunned witnesses–his then-girlfriend, Joquisha Pitts, and a younger friend, Marcus Harris–$40 each to keep mum. Druery dumped the body in a stock pond on his family’s property.

The past 10 years for Sherrie Lackings, Browne’s mother, have been a journey from shock and overwhelming grief to healing and forgiveness. It is a journey that will culminate when the Lackings travel to Texas for Druery’s execution, slated for Aug. 1.

“It’s the last thing I can do for Skyyler,” Sherrie said. Yet the couple’s journey is less about justice and more about the healing power of forgiveness and their Christian faith. In an unusual gesture, they hope to meet with Druery before his execution to offer him their forgiveness. Full report here.

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World War II POW Learns Forgiveness as Path to Happiness

Chicago Sun Times. Louis Zamperini, age 95, spoke at a Barrington High School recently, recounting his heroism and harrowing experiences prior to and during World War II. He was the featured person in Laura Hillenbrand’s (Seabiscuit) best-selling book, Unbroken. A key to living well, he told the students, was learning to forgive. He used to have nightmares about one particular Japanese soldier who abused him. Asked by one of the students what he would do now if he met that soldier, he said he would forgive and hug the man.

As a 19-year-old track star known as the “Torrence Tornado” for his hometown in California, Louis Zamperini went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics and met Hitler.

But his dramatic life story hadn’t even begun to be written until several years later, when his plane was shot down in the Pacific Ocean in World War II and he went on to cheat death many times in dramatic fashion.

It’s a story that was turned into a best-selling book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, author of another bestseller, Seabiscuit: An American Legend.

Full story here.

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Mother of Murdered Daughter Makes the “Most Gracious” Statement Ever

Leslie Sheppard Doame was a gentle woman who lived a “life full of love and sweetness and kindness” but spent her final moments pleading for her life, her mother told a Rankin County court.

But, facing the man who killed her 37-year-old daughter, Teresa Sheppard said she forgave him.

Before sentencing a man for murder, a judge said that the statement just made by the deceased’s mother was “the most gracious” he has ever heard in a courtroom. The mother proclaimed forgiveness for the murderer. Full story here.

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Former Philippines President Calls for National Forgiveness to Heal Disunity

MANILA, Philippines – Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wished for healing and forgiveness for the nation this Holy Week and for her birthday tomorrow.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who served as the 14th President of the Philippines from 2001 to 2010, called on her nation to unite in healing and forgiveness. Where there is now disunity, there can be political harmony if the people resolve to move together toward a brighter future.

In a statement issued from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City where she is detained on charges of electoral sabotage before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, she also prayed that the country be protected from disasters.

“To our countrymen, let us pray for forgiveness this Lenten season and continue to be inspired by the love bestowed on us by Jesus and the sacrifice He made to redeem our sins,” Arroyo said. “I wish that the turmoil and sadness caused by disunity would end.”

Full story here.

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Man’s Family Killed by Intoxicated Driver; Forgiver Wants World to Know the Other Is “Not a Monster”

Gary Weinstein, a jeweler in the Detroit area, recently met the man who was convicted of driving while intoxicated and killing Mr. Weinstein’s wife and two sons. The convicted man is now in a jail north of Detroit. Mr. Weinstein has asked to speak with the man’s children in the hope of bringing some healing to them. He wants to interact with the man “…so that the world will know he’s not a monster.”

Fifty-one weeks after Tom Wellinger killed Gary Weinstein’s family, the jeweler decided to accompany his attorneys to a meeting with Wellinger at the Oakland County Jail.

“They did preliminary questions, and then my attorney said, ‘You got any questions for him?’ ” Weinstein recalled. “I hadn’t really prepared.”

So he asked the only thing that mattered: “How’s your kids?”

And in that moment, they were what they were: two family men who lived within a mile of each other, whose names were on the same page in the Farmington Hills phone book, two fathers whose children attended the same schools — until Wellinger took Weinstein’s away forever.

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