Deep in the middle of the night, Mother was snatched out of her sleep by the ringing of the phone. She wiped the sleep from her eyes and answered the call. Her Beloved son had been arrested and charged with murder. Chills ran down her spine as she wept uncontrollably. What in the world had Beloved gotten himself into. A downpour of emotions filled her soul as despair set in.
Mother was a simple woman. She barely made it out of high school and had very little confidence in her intellect. However, what she did know was how to rely on God. Up until this point, He had gotten her and Beloved out of many difficult situations. She was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and was hopeful Beloved was changing. He wasn’t a bad boy but somehow, time and time again, found himself running with the wrong crowd. Then out of nowhere this draw-dropping news shifted her reality.
She rushed to the police station to discover his bail was well out of reach and her son held hostage in a cage with violent men she prayed would not harm him. She visits with him and he declares his innocence. Her first response is anger but she knows if there is one thing she has taught her son, it is to always be honest. She paused and remembered the many times she’d looked in his eyes and found the truth. This was one of those times and she knew without a shadow of a doubt her son was innocent.
This story, unfortunately, is more common in our country than most of us would like to believe. I think sometimes it’s just easier to believe those arrested should have known better and made better decisions. Most of us don’t want people falsely tried and convicted but we rarely stop to think of the mountain that stands in front of the loved ones left to mend the broken pieces. Many who are wrongfully convicted are not war ready and surrender to a lesser plea, spending unnecessary years in prison while a slimmer margin refuses to forfeit their innocence.
In either case family members are left with the task of moving on and assisting their loved ones with maneuvering through the storm. In most cases these loved ones are ill equipped to fight their opponent. Those who refuse to relent, go to an even greater source and plead their case. They go before the King.
Mother enters the King’s chamber with her heart shattered desperate for resolve. He is willing to hear her case but first he cares for her heart. He finds a place where she can rest and quiet her soul. Moments later, she feels strength course through her body and approaches the bench. He leans forward and listens intently taking in every word and when she is finished, he slams the gavel and decrees “mercy”.
She jumps up from her seat overwhelmed with joy and leaves the room. She returns home to await her son’s release. Days pass then months before she discovers he has been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to fifty years in prison. At the sound of the news her heart faints. She is left breathless and falls to the floor. She cries out to the supreme judge and reminds him of his decree. Once again before he speaks he tends to her heart. This time for days, for weeks. He breathes life back into her heart and gives her strength to hear. He follows with, “Cherished one I have not changed what I have said.” “You must only believe.” “Ask me how to war in your realm.” “Ask me how you are to fight this battle and surely you will win.” “For my words do not come back to me void and will accomplish that which please me.” She falls to the ground and weeps for days at the sound of his voice. Still weak, she finds just enough strength to make a call. Little did she know that call would connect her with someone who was willing to help.
She spent the next twelve months reading, and studying things she never understood before. This time she had a different motive, her Beloved. Over the months she found the faith, and confidence for the war ahead. God had spoken his word now she had to do her part, and that she did.
She studied day and night and found a new passion for the law and planned to become a paralegal when the nightmare was over. It was as if all of a sudden the light came on and purpose was there. Who would have known she would find purpose at the hand of her son’s imprisonment? She gathered her evidence, found a good lawyer and won a retrial.
For weeks evidence was presented and there were plenty of opportunities to quit. But when fear crouched at her door, she would hear the word “mercy” and a fresh wind would catapult her forward. The jury deliberated and it was in their hands now. The day was endless and she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. They entered the courtroom and the judgement was made. All prior charges were dropped and Beloved was found innocent. Once again, Mother heard the gavel slam and the word “mercy” released in her favor. All she could do was cry, lift her hands and give thanks to the Lord.
Mother and Beloved did not stop there. It took years to build new bridges they could walk on together. Once the bridges were built, they founded the Hope Center where families of wrongfully convicted men and women could find spiritual, emotional and legal support through their battle.
During these trying times we must face every trial with unrelenting faith. As I wrote the story I couldn’t help but think of the challenges 2020 have brought into my life. I’ve whined, complained, and cried at the lack of understanding I had for the season. Then I was reminded “What the devil meant for evil, God turns it around for good.” You see, as harsh as the consequences were for this family there was a greater end. So I encourage you to stand strong in unrelenting faith knowing God has spoken, and you will win this battle. Everything you need to win is within you and remember gold is produced by the fire.
Author: Petrina Milan