Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
“Your testimony may have saved a life!” wrote Anthony––the man who murdered my dad––from his prison cell. Holding the letter, I stood in stunned silence, tears rolling down my face.
Oh Lord, I thought, as I closed my eyes and dropped my head back, in awe. There really were no words. Thank you, Lord, thank you, was all that I could say in worship to our mighty God.
I was called to forgive. To love my enemy. To allow Jesus unhindered access to the pain, the bitterness, and the wounds of my past which took residence in the deepest recess of my soul.
I knew that He wanted to take me to a new, better place. A place of healing, peace, and forgiveness. So, I followed. By the grace of God alone, I followed Jesus as He led me down the messy, war-torn path toward wholeness. It was a trial like no other, yet upon reading this letter, it was all worth it, as I witnessed the fruit of following Jesus.
I read your testimony at our church service yesterday and today, I told them what an amazing God we serve that could bring two people at opposite ends of the spectrum together in forgiveness. That this story has particular meaning to me cuz I’m who it was written about, I’m the one who killed her dad. I then I said not only had you forgiven me but you’d encouraged me. Then I read the last paragraph of your last letter! I told them nothing is unforgivable, Christ was crucified for every sin. I told them to place God in the center of their most broken relationship and pray. They may not find that kind of forgiveness but they would find forgiveness in them and then they’d know the peace that surpasses all understanding.
There were men crying, one guy stood up and said he’d lost his wife to another man (I didn’t tell them why I had done what I’d done). He said for the last few months he had decided when he got out he was going to kill the man. Now He’d decided to pray and forgive. Your testimony may have saved a life! How awesome is our God! God has used you and me and this horrible crime to heal, not only us, but others. Now your forgiveness has truly settled into my heart. I won’t let your dad’s life nor mine be in vain, I promise. Thank you for making it possible to share this amazing testimony. I believe God is not finished with either of us, tomorrow is a good day.
This is something only Jesus can do. No human could have even begun to orchiestrate what He has done through my journey to forgiveness.
Anthony, who was once sorrowful, but not repentant, came to repent before the Lord and went on to live to the glory of God within the confines of his prison. In fact, I received a letter from him a couple weeks ago telling me about a revival service that he helped with where over 20 inmates came forward to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior during the alter call (which was more than they’ve ever seen).
And I, who was once burdened by the anger and bitterness that weigh many victims down, was freed from the prison of anger/bitterness and was set on a new path proclaiming the glory of our Lord, and what He can do through our obedience to His call.
This is what God does. He takes our messes and brings redemption and beauty.
And my question to you today is this: How might Jesus want to use your testimony to the benefit of others?
We each have a story to tell. Every Christ follower has experienced God’s redemption, and for those who have yet to come to faith in Jesus, the moment you submit your life to Christ, you will experience it.
So, what’s holding you back from sharing your testimony?