It was a cold February night in 2007, when family decided to go out for ice cream. At the same time, a seventeen-year-old boy, who’d been drinking, was driving to find his friends. In one violent, devastating instant, they both faced a radically different and uncertain future.
Chris Williams sat in his demolished vehicle, staring at the car that had just caused the death of his wife, his unborn baby (which they waited for 6 years after multiple miscarriages), his nine-year-old daughter, and his eleven-year-old son. He knew in that moment, he had a decision to make.
Chris, after being admitted to the ER, was visited by a family friend who confirmed that he and the other driver were the only survivors. Chris remembered the decision he made immediately following the accident – He was going to “let it go.”
Let go of the wrong done to him. He would let the other driver go from any angry or hostility he felt from losing his family.
In a moment of excruciating pain, he showed this young man mercy. These two men would not meet until later, but in his heart, Chris had already released him.
“I knew [I was forgiven] the moment he came into my room.” Cameron White said in an interview he participated in with Chris Williams. Chris said, “For me, the tragedy would have been for another life to be lost in this accident.”
What is Mercy? It is, “Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”
That’s what Chris did. Cameron could have served several life sentences, but he didn’t because Chris showed mercy.
There isn’t a day that either one of these men don’t remember the pain of that February night in 2007. But, they’ve decided to use their pain to help others facing the worst of situations.
Felicia also had a decision to make. She was a single mother of an eleven-year-old, a devout Christian with steady employment. She came to us because she thought she might be pregnant. However, this was not of Felicia’s choosing. She was the victim of date rape. She reported the incident to the police and told them the perpetrator was a co-worker. He was stalking her, and she needed help. She believed there was little, if anything, she could do to protect herself and her daughter, besides quit her job and leave town. Because of these difficult circumstances, Felicia was thinking about having an abortion.
The day she came to our center, she sat on the chair in the counseling room, curled up in a fetal position. When the pregnancy test was positive, she tearfully recounted the story of the events that led up to the pregnancy. She didn’t know what to do; she knew abortion was wrong, but she couldn’t see any other possibility. Felicia shared with the counselor that, although she had a strong relationship with God, she felt totally helpless to do the right thing. There was the shame of an unplanned pregnancy. There was the fear of her eleven-year-old child finding out, and there was the fear of reprisal from this man who had violated her.
We encouraged Felicia to consider an adoption plan and found a maternity home where she could live until the baby was born and placed with the adoptive parents. Friends at church provided care for Felicia’ daughter while she was away. Within a few weeks, we heard from Felicia. She wasn’t ready to commit to placing her baby for adoption and was leaving the maternity home to return to her life in the area and get further counseling about adoption.
God worked in miraculous ways as He brought Felicia and one of our most experienced adoption counselors together through a “chance” meeting. This counseling proved invaluable as Felicia discovered that adoption was not for her. She bravely decided to explain the situation to her daughter and work on a plan for raising this baby. In the meantime, God was using law enforcement agencies to assure Felicia that she was safe and that this man was not going to be able to harm her, her daughter, or the new baby.
It was beautiful to witness how God orchestrated to allow this baby to be born. Her friend from church, and her eleven-year-old daughter were there at the hospital with her to welcome this new little person into the world.
Felicia’s case is normally the “case in point” that the pro-choice community uses to legitimize abortions, but Felicia decided to choose life. To grant compassion and mercy despite the acts she endured.
We cannot experience radical mercy without experiencing radical and devastating circumstances.
Whatever scars we bear – we are forgiven. God does not condemn us. Sometimes we accept God’s mercy for others, but we aren’t good at accepting mercy for ourselves. At Hope, our prayer is that this year will be the year we understand God’s mercy on a whole new level!
I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. – Abraham Lincoln
“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13