On February 1993, Oshea Israel and Larimiun Byrd were at the same party. Each one of them was having fun with their own group of friends. Laranium got into an argument with one of Oshea’s friends. Oshea intervened pulling his gun and ended up shooting and killing Laranium.
Oshea was convicted of second degree murder and condemned to 25 years in prison. He was 16 at the time and Laranium was 20. After 10 years of dealing with the pain of losing a son and the burden of hate against his son’s murderer, Mary Johnson was convinced that God wanted her to do something about it. God wanted her to not only forgive Oshea, but also to help other women dealing with the pain of losing a child due to the violence on the streets of Minneapolis.
She knew that if she was going to help them, first she had to deal with her own pain and hate. She requested a visit to meet Oshea. She wasn’t sure of what to expect, but Oshea’s first words to her were a plea for forgiveness. She embraced him and said “I forgive you and I let you go.” She says that it felt like a huge burden being lifted from her. That visit changed both of their lives.
“God is limitless in His love, and asks that we at least make the effort to be limitless in ours.”
Mary Johnson’s story is an example of an extraordinary effort to show limitless love and forgiveness to someone else.
When the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew chapter 18 how many times should they forgive others, He responded “seventy times seven times.” He asked them not to put limits to their love and forgiveness for others. Mary’s story might sound a bit extreme and I wish this is something you never have to go through. We might not get chance to show limitless love in that way, but we still get the chance to do it every single day. From apparently insignificant things like a waitress being rude to us to more critical things like forgiving a family member for a past quarrel.
Every time we forgive someone, we share a piece of the Godly love given to us. Our natural reaction when someone wrongs us is to seek revenge and wish bad things upon them. That’s why we try to chase the car that cuts us off in traffic. We need help from the Holy Spirit to show true forgiveness. In Galatians 5:22-23 TPT, Paul shares a list of the Fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.”
It might seem that out of that list we only need kindness, gentleness and strength to forgive others. However, faith is absolutely necessary in the process of forgiveness and for letting go of the hate and resentment in our hearts. We need faith to believe that forgiving an offense doesn’t mean that God forgot about our pain. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and that His ways are higher than ours. We don’t know nor fully understand God’s plans. We have no idea of how is he going to use our forgiveness to impact other lives too. After our own personal healing process is done and we forgive others, we are extending that healing to them as well.
Mary Johnson founded a Ministry called From Death To Life dedicated to ending violence through healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who have caused harm. Oshea and Mary share their story whenever they can as a powerful testimony of limitless love and forgiveness that can only come from heaven. Forgiveness is a powerful manifestation of The Kingdom of God coming to earth. How can you show forgiveness today?