I posted the other day on the subject of Lent reading. Here is another one to add to your list: Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer, by Jeanne Bishop.
Jeanne is a dear friend of mine and so I was treated to reading the manuscript of this book before it was published. I was thrilled to open the mail earlier this week to find my signed copy of the actual book. I immediately sat down and read it again.
The story begins twenty-five years ago, when, after a family dinner celebrating the pregnancy of Jeanne’s sister Nancy, Nancy and her husband returned home. An intruder was sitting and waiting for them, gun in hand. He shot and killed them.
As the title and subtitle of the book reveals, this is the story of how Jeanne moved to forgiveness and, even more, to compassion toward the man who murdered her beloved sister. How she moved from not even being able to speak the killer’s name, to writing to him and visiting him in prison. From being an advocate for life without parole for juveniles to advocating against such a punishment. (The killer was a junior in high school when the murders took place.) Her story is one of restorative justice and of Christian love. It is also a story of the cost of discipleship, as some of Jeanne’s actions (such as testifying in favor of reducing the life without parole sentence of people like this killer) sometimes put her on the other side of the aisle of other family members and generated harsh (and sometimes vicious) criticism from others.
Jeanne says this in the opening chapter of the book:
This is the story of how God rolled away that stone [the stone over her heart], loosened the fingers that gripped that rock [the rock she wanted to throw at the perpetrator], till it thudded in the dirt – and grew in its stead the green shoots of transformation and new life, renewal and change.
It is my story, but it is also yours, because God who loves us all and wrought this miracle in my life has the power to transform yours as well, to lead you into places you never dreamed you would go
Jeanne is wonderful model of Christian discipleship. I admire her greatly and am honored to call her a friend.
I don’t doubt you will find this a compelling story and one of amazing grace. It would make for good reading during this Lent.