Cheryl Miller, executive director of Perpetual Hope Home, Inc., came on stage and shared two pictures at the beginning of the CCDA conference in Raleigh, NC.
The first picture was of her recent trip to the border of Texas-Mexico, where she not only witnessed the many unaccompanied children being detained at the border, but also witnessed bitter polarization on the issue, and the polarization was among believers.
In the midst of the polarization Miller sees happening across our country on so many issues, she shared a picture of reconciliation. She quoted, "When seeking truth meets speaking love, justice can be ushered in." Miller leads a restorative justice effort in which she's walked with over 1,600 victims and offenders to bring healing. Last night, she shared the story of Jonni, the mother of a murdered child, and his killer, Chacto, and their visit together in the prison where Chacto resides.
During their visit, Jonni asked the toughened Mexican Mafia member if he was going to ask her for forgiveness. Miller, listening, was a bit confused as to why Jonni asked that of Chacto because years before, at the end of the trial, Jonni had faced Chacto and told him that she forgave him for what he did to her son.
Chacto received the question. As tears rolled down his face, he said he was sorry, and he asked her forgiveness, in which she promptly replied, "I forgive you." They ended their visit, hands raised to touch through the glass, with tears flowing on both sides.
After their visit, Cheryl asked Jonni why she had asked Chacto if he was going to ask for forgiveness from her. Jonni responded, "I did it for him, not for me." Cheryl asked what Jonni was feeling that would compel her to do this. The response, "I think it was love."
Miller went on to say that the law can't bring justice. But love can.
Forgiveness doesn't negate the wrong, but it restores humanity to the situation.