“Did you know we had a guy on parole for murder here?” -text message to me

“Yeah, you mean Andre. He’s cool. It was his cousin and a while ago… I think.” -my reply

He caught my eye and threw me that toothy smile that has been glued on his face for the last two days. I had just finished three interviews, and was hoping he’d start talking without a lead. Thank God for small miracles.

“I like gettin’ out and makin’ my own way instead of askin’ from people,” Andre said, still smiling. “I’m a real nice person. If I see someone who needs my help, I’ll take them under my wing and take care of them.”

He said he met his fiancée online and was sick of the games and dishonesty the girls he knew were throwing at him. She stood by his side, despite his parole violation, and possible murder (which we are all still a little fuzzy about).

“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was around people I wasn’t supposed to be around,” he said.

I believe him. I also believe he killed a man. And I believe none of that changes my view of him or gave me any hesitation in hugging him and loving him and listening to him.

“I lost control.”

Who hasn’t been there? Maybe you didn’t reach in the glove compartment, grab the gun and shoot someone, but in my favorite Book, it says if you are angry at someone and call them foolish, you are guilty of murder and worthy of Hell. It says not to even pray or give thanks until you have reconciled that anger.

How could I possibly judge this man? In God’s eyes, I’ve done the SAME THING.

He went on to tell me about his fiancée, Sandy. He said he loved her because of her kindness, the very thing that has spiraled them into living under the Broadway bridge. You see, Sandy doesn’t understand money. She gets a paycheck, and gives every dime away before she goes to bed that night. She doesn’t mean to. She wants to save. She just can’t say no.

This mind sound simple-minded or (choose your own negative adjective to insert here), but to her, she just doesn’t understand. She can’t say no, and no one has taught her the simple life skills required to save money.

Gosh, I wish Bill Gates had that problem! These two have ‘adopted’ a young man named James who isn’t much younger than them. They saw him being taken advantage of, and took him in and protected him.

I don’t care what this man did in another life; in this one, he’s my hero.

Thank You God, for being a forgiving God, for being a redeeming God, for being faithful and loving and granting serenity, even in our darkest hour. Thank you for your children. Every last one of them, Lord. Continue teaching me through them, and use me for whatever Your will may be. Amen.