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Saturday, August 13, 2011

ON DEATH ROW


A moving story is told in Graham Twelftree’s Drive the Point Home. A young man, Jimmy Lee Davis, was sentenced to death row for rape and murder. Even his mother wrote to the state governor, “Don’t reprieve him. What he has done is so bad I want my boy to die.” A news magazine from America carried the headline: “'I want my son to die,' says mother".

A young Pentecostal man in Melbourne, Australia, read the story. He was moved to write to Jimmy and tell him that Jesus loved him. To his amazement he got a letter back saying, “It’s the most wonderful letter I have ever had in my life. I do wish I could meet you. I just wish I could know Jesus in my life like you do. I’ve made such a mess of it. You have given me hope.”

The young man felt that God wanted him to go to America and visit Jimmy. After prayer and sharing the idea with friends, he raised the money and went. By a series of coincidences he got permission to go into death row twice a week, for four hours a visit, for two months. He took his guitar and they sang choruses, told jokes, laughed and he led Jimmy to Jesus. His last visit was to Jimmy’s baptism.

For two years Jimmy’s faith grew. In one of his letters, he wrote, “There is one thing I’m not going to do. I’m not going to dishonour the gospel by using my conversion to escape the death penalty.” Then one day the young man in Melbourne got a ring from his wife, “Can you come home at once? Jimmy’s just got permission to ring us from prison; he’s being executed tonight.”

He tore home and got through to the prison two hours before Jimmy was due in the gas chamber. But he just broke down and cried on the phone. However, Jimmy at the other end said, “I love you man. Thank you for all that you have done for me. I’ve got to go now. Goodbye. Be seeing you.” And Jimmy hung up.

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