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CBN.com “She was shot three times with a large gun, and the first two shots didn’t kill her. It took over two hours for him to shoot the third and final shot, and when he did, it blew her little chest apart.”
Thirty-two year old Tami Waite had been brutally murdered by her boyfriend.
“I can still see her lying there…”
The tragedy was too much for Carol Johnson to take, especially since Tami was her first-born -- a treasure she’d never be able to replace.
“Tami was very organized. She was career orientated. She really wanted to do something with her life,” says Carol.
Dashed dreams -- for which Tami’s boyfriend showed no sign of remorse.
“This was the same time as the big trial with O.J. Simpson, and the man that murdered my daughter called into his job and said, ‘Well, it looks like I pulled a Simpson’… like it’s a joke.”
Tami’s boyfriend had been drinking and doing drugs. There’d been an argument but he gave no real motivation for the murder.
“That’s hard to take as a parent,” says Carol. “You don’t know why? That’s pretty convenient.”
The more Carol heard in the courtroom, the more bitter she became.
“I hated this man. I thought, I wonder if there’s someway I could get to him. I’d like for him to be hurt like my daughter is. I just want him dead. I said, ‘God, I can’t take it anymore.’”
That’s when Carol remembered a promise from God.
“’You promised me that You would never ever give me more than I can take, and I’m standing on that word. I can’t do it.’ And the minute I said that I felt this huge angel behind me. I said, ‘Oh Jesus, You sent me an angel… Can I keep him?’ He said in my spirit, ‘Of course, as long as you need him. He will be here with you.’”
Carol’s attitude towards Tami’s murderer started to change. She noticed a limp in his walk, and she began to pray.
“I didn’t want to but the minute that I made that commitment and meant it in my heart, it’s just like weights fell off me. I said, ‘Okay, God, forgive me. Touch him, heal his foot and let him know that it’s okay.’ At that moment in time, I knew that something had started inside of me. Some spirit had started to grow.”
It was the beginning of forgiveness -- a journey that would take time and action on Carol’s part to complete.
The court case finally concluded and Tami’s boyfriend was sentenced to 14 years in prison. For Carol, that’s when the real grieving began.
“I just went into a deep depression and went into my bedroom. A lot of days I didn’t even get dressed. I didn’t answer the phone. I didn’t want anybody coming by.”
The only person Carol wanted to talk to was God. After six months, she figured out what He wanted her to do.
“He says, ‘I want you to go into the jails and the prisons, and I want you to tell every inmate you see two things. You tell them that I love them no matter what they’ve done. The second thing is that I want you to tell them you love them.’”
It wasn’t easy, but Carol complied and became chaplain at the local jail. With God’s help, she grew to love her inmates and gradually, her depression lifted.
Then Carol did something she never thought she could. She visited the man who murdered her daughter. Her mission? To forgive him face to face.
She recalls, “When he first came in the room, he had his head down and he wouldn’t look at me. He wouldn’t look in my eyes at all.”
He expected Carol to question and rebuke him. Instead, she just asked him how he was.
“Pretty soon, he raised his head up, looked me right in the eyes, and he said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I asked him, ‘Will you do just one favor for me? If you ever find yourself in a position where you know you’re going to die, I mean whether it be prison violence or illness, would you just ask Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you?’”
Just a few months later, the man who murdered Tami Waite died in prison from a mysterious illness.
“I started crying, grieving for him because no one was grieving for him. That was the time that I experienced the most love from God that I have ever felt in my life -- when I grieved for the man who murdered my daughter.”
Carol heard that before he died, he did just as she requested and asked Jesus into his heart. Finally, the long journey to forgiveness had come to an end.
“The forgiveness thing is the most powerful thing we have,” says Carol. “You never forget the pain. You never forget how it hurts, but yet you are grateful that God has given you forgiveness. So when you give to others, it comforts you. [When you] can’t do this anymore, that’s when He whispers to you forgiveness because that’s healing. That’s the only way you’re going to heal.”
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