Unshackled: From Ruin to Redemption
By Gene McGuire (Emerge)
At age 17, Gene McGuire accompanied his step-brother and older cousin to a tavern to drink and to shoot pool. That night, McGuire’s cousin brutally killed the tavern’s proprietor and emptied the cash register. Although McGuire was not inside the building when the woman was killed, an inexperienced court-appointed attorney persuaded him to plead guilty to murder, convincing him the judge would reduce it to a lesser charge. Instead, McGuire received a life sentence for second-degree murder, and he entered the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania on his 18th birthday. McGuire served 34 years, 9 months and 15 days before a judge commuted his sentence to time served.
Rather than focus on the injustice of three and a half decades spent behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, McGuire sees the hand of God at work in his circumstances. As a teenager, even before his incarceration, McGuire was enslaved to alcohol and trapped in a web of family dysfunction. In prison, 25 years before a judge pronounced his release, McGuire discovered freedom when he accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. He soon began an effective discipleship ministry among other inmates. Today, he lives in Bedford and works as chaplain for a Christian family-owned chain of nine chicken restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
With remarkable transparency and authenticity, McGuire paints a tragic portrait of a life in ruins, offers an unvarnished view of prison life and presents an inspiring picture of life transformed by Christ. His story includes a remarkable testimony of forgiveness received and granted to others. Find encouragement in this powerful narrative of grace.
Ken Camp, managing editor