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In a blog I wrote entitled “Those With Records,” I made the statement that those who have been victimized by criminals certainly deserve compassion and protection, then I noted the other side of the coin, that victims’ rights have been addressed for years now. To some, maybe even to many, that may sound crass and insensitive. It was never meant to be.



One other dimension of this whole victimization scenario, particularly when it comes to those who have been victimized sexually, is that there have been gross miscarriages of justice where victims have been neglected or even blamed for what happened to them while the perpetrators received little or no punishment. A vivid example of this is the sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. Another, more recent situation has been the arrest and charging of Hillsong Sydney Pastor Brian Houston for concealing child sex offenses. We do not know what will become of Mr. Houston—he has stepped down as pastor, at least for now—and there has been, in the eyes of many, slowness of justice pertaining to the Catholics and their victim issues. (Update: Brian Houston resigned.)



There are other examples, but my point here is to acknowledge the voice of victims. While It Ain’t Over Ministries is a ministry primarily geared toward convicted felons, including registered sex offenders, we do not and will not downplay what has been done to victims over the years.


We have experienced our own share of tears and heartache over the damage we caused to others through our criminal activity once the Lord awakened our consciences and brought home to us the grave seriousness of what we did. God loves everyone, and He is especially tenderhearted towards those who are vulnerable. God is infuriated when one of these vulnerable ones is harmed in any way:



Exodus 22:22:  “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.”



Leviticus 19:32-33: “ ‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD. And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.’ ”



Matthew 18:6, 10:  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea…Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”



In situations such as ours you do not always see apologies made. Besides the fact that in both sexual and other types of criminal cases it is typical for a perpetrator to be legally forbidden to be around or say anything to the victim, apologies in such cases often ring hollow and insincere even when they are genuine and heartfelt. The pain and anger felt by victims and their families is often too intense to allow for the benefit of the doubt. There are other unfortunate developments which spring from these situations also.



Society encourages victims never to forgive their perpetrators. Forgiveness when this level of wrong has been done is extremely hard, and God understands that, but at the same time, while He is compassionate, He is also no respecter of persons. God’s holy standard is what He judges by:



Matthew 6:14-15:  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”



When victims are encouraged to never forgive, they are ensnared in a trap from which they can get no release unless they do forgive. Forgiveness is not tied to accountability. A person can forgive someone who wronged them but still hold them accountable.



Another unfortunate development is what ensues for those of us who have been criminal perpetrators in the past. If we successfully move on with our lives we are accused of having no remorse. If we show our sorrow or do get a chance to apologize we are accused of faking it. We get that when it comes to those we harmed and their families, but in a number of cases it does not stop with them. It extends outward to much of society, including the churches, and that is where our complaint comes in. That is part of what drove me to write “Those With Records.” It was not to get people to feel sorry for us, but to bring a greater awareness of the extent and the depth of God’s love. God loves both the victim and the perpetrator. As Christians we are to reflect God’s unconditional love for all people. We can hate what He hates, including all types of crimes, but we must love others regardless of what they have done. We cannot brush aside people who have been harmed, but we cannot brush aside convicted felons, either.



We are sorry for what we have done and we pray for those to whom we caused harm, both them and their families. That will not stop. We certainly don’t do it to gain acceptance, knowing that many will never believe we mean it. We do it because when we get God involved, He has the power to heal any and every kind of hurt. He knows that we mean it when we pray for them. We are able to move on with our lives because Jesus forgave us of our sins, including those that gave us a rap sheet, and we cannot help others if we are beaten down with guilt and shame. In fact, being in that state is dangerous and can even lead to reoffense. I know because it happened with me in 1999 when I got locked up a second time. We will not live that way anymore.



With that being said, we know that despite all the factors that led to us committing such offenses, we were ultimately responsible for our own actions. Taking responsibility, whether for alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, sex offending, or anything else, is a big step forward in overcoming such issues. And then there is empathy. Whether anyone believes us or not we feel for those we harmed and for all others who were victimized. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right way to be. Some of us have experienced victimization ourselves, so we know how it is from both sides. Read my bio and my testimony. You’ll see. I do not wallow in guilt, shame, and self-pity, but I’m glad I can feel something. I am glad God reawakened my conscience, and so it is with all of us of It Ain’t Over Ministries. Thank God for His grace and mercy!



Revelation 21:4:  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”



2 Responses

  1. AMEN! Good word’s of encouragement. Forgiveness is the “key” to total healing and wholeness in all areas; including forgiving ourselves. 🙂

  2. Amen, we must forgive to get forgiveness. And we must remember THROUGH GOD all things are possible