This is the last part of the story. Thanks for jumping in and I hope it can be a helpful example of how to start putting storytelling to use within your teaching context. Feel free to “pirate” this story, amend it for your audience and initiate some dialog on the myth of Redemptive Violence, Forgiveness and Restoration. The book releases on Tuesday, Dec. 14th, so please support by picking up a copy and passing the word! Catch up: Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
After getting halfway to the meeting area and turning back to the safety of his cell, Kevin eventually built up the courage to turn around and walk toward his mother. He felt as though he were walking in a dream, and each step felt as though there were a ten-pound weight tied to his feet. After turning the final corner, he saw his mother sitting on the other side of thick glass and looking down into her purse. As she looked up, he sat down straight across from her. Both of their eyes filled with tears. She could sense that something profound had happened to her son, and he could see her love for him in her eyes.
In the twenty minutes they had together, they quickly shared stories and got caught up on the lives of family members. Kevin knew this wasn’t the first time she’d come to see him, as the guards notified Kevin of her presence each month—he never chose to see his mom. She slowly looked down and then back up to meet Kevin’s eyes. She said, “I’ve sat in this seat on the fourth Sunday of every month since you were put in prison. I knew you were probably angry with your father and me; we made so many mistakes. But I wanted you to know that I’ve always loved you, son.” Kevin was saddened that his anger and bitterness kept him from reading her letters and spending time with her during her visits. He’d missed out on so much.
They only had a few minutes left, but Kevin could see some concern in his mother’s eyes. She said, “Kevin, I have to tell you that the cousin of the boy you killed has been put into this same prison. I don’t know anything else, but I’m sure he’s angry with you. So please look out for yourself.” Kevin’s heart sank, and for a moment he was filled with fear. But just as quickly, he felt overcome by a spirit of peace. He told his mother he loved her and forgave her. They parted ways as both cried again, but this time they were tears of joy.
As the months passed, Kevin and Charlie became the best of friends. And Kevin established a reputation among the inmates and prison employees as a respected and honorable man. One of Kevin’s favorite times of the day was when he’d walk around the back of the courtyard and feed the local stray dogs through the chain-link fence. Kevin would use the time by himself to think and pray while talking to the shaggy, four-legged creatures. He wasn’t sure if anyone knew he went to this secluded spot, until one afternoon when he heard a low voice call out his name. Kevin spun around feeling startled. Standing there were three guys who didn’t look all that happy. Kevin’s heart dropped when he realized who the guy in the middle was—Cory’s cousin.
The three backed Kevin up against the fence with the dogs yapping on the other side. Kevin could see that Cory’s cousin had his hand wrapped tightly around some kind of sharp object. Stuck between panic and divine peace, Kevin could think only of Jesus’ third way. Kevin had no desire to fight back and use violence to defend his cause, but he also didn’t want to give in to the certain death these guys intended. Surprising even himself, Kevin began singing—loudly. One of his favorite bands was U2, so he sang, “It’s a beautiful day . . .” It didn’t take more than a couple of seconds until one of the guards heard the loud singing and looked around the corner to see Kevin and the three men. Cory’s cousin hadn’t drawn the weapon, so the three men just backed away as if nothing was going on. The guard walked closer to them.
Kevin couldn’t help but smile. It was a nervous smile, but it was also a smile of hope—for a life that meant something. Kevin had been invited into the story of Jesus, and he couldn’t wait to experience it every day.
follow-up discussion and Questions
Have teenagers pull out the main “nuggets” from each teaching and write them on the board.
Break into small groups to discuss personal impact and application.
Discuss the role of family in your life—how have you dealt with pain, hurt, and bitterness? Do you still have a lot of pain, hurt, and bitterness in your life? How do you respond to those who hurt you physically, emotionally, and verbally? In what ways have you been “taught” to respond? In what ways can you respond using this third way (or Jesus’ Way) of retaliation? What examples in the world today show that we must either respond in a passive or violent way? What can we do to break that trend?