Voices: The response to hostility

Botham Jean's younger brother Brandt Jean hugs convicted murderer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her following her 10-year prison sentence for murder at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Wednesday, October 2, 2019. (Photo by Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

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On Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, an 18-year-old young man allowed the Holy Spirit to use him and demonstrate through him a level of mercy and grace often shown to average human beings on a daily basis by an all-loving God.

Many were baffled by the measure of humility and sincerity shown by a young man who had lost his “Big Brother” Botham Jean by the tragic actions of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.

By now, the story has been told over and over again, how this innocent young man was killed in his own apartment while sitting on his sofa eating ice cream.

Brandt Jean, the younger brother, shocked the world, the nation and the judge when he sat on the witness stand during the victim impact statements and offered convicted murderer Amber Guyger the opportunity to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior, along with verbalizing his desire that no harm comes to her.

Then to the surprise of onlookers, he sought permission to embrace the convicted murderer with a hug. He whispered words of encouragement in her ear.

In addition, Judge Tammy Kemp presented Guyger with a Bible and turned it to John 3:16.

Why is this so remarkable?

One answer is because forgiveness and mercy are two inseparable graces that have all but vanished in our present negative, profane and perverted postmodern society.

While I applaud this outward display of forgiveness and forbearance, I pray the universal body of Christ takes notice.

Let us take notice that in the midst of this divisive environment and cultural climate, God’s love, grace and mercy are ever-present. Let Brandt Jean’s and Judge Kemp’s gestures not be lost on the Christian community.

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So many of us were so shocked because it was the last thing on our mind. Many have become infected by the pestilence of prejudice and political partisanship clouding our judgment.

While some are angry with the outcome of the case, angry with the jury’s decision regarding the jail sentence, and some even are angry that the case went to trial in the first place, all need to pause and look in the mirror and access the person looking back at you.

Why is this so remarkable?

It is remarkable because for Christians, Brandt Jean’s response should be the universal response of all Christian believers, and it is not.

Due to our experiences with the secular powers that be, we will see this differently through our cultural lenses.

May the day come when the Christian community will see these tragedies and triumphs through the lenses of faith.

May the day come when justice has the same definition for all.

May the day come when all people deeply feel there is no need to terrorize, hate or discriminate.

Let it not be lost

Let it not be lost on those who applaud Brandt’s actions as thoughtful and kind that many people of color have a hard time sympathizing.

A not so silent group of men and women of color gasped when they saw the bailiff stroking the convicted murderer’s hair and the judge offering a warm embrace after sentencing. That is a glimpse of God’s mercy on display.

Unfortunately, criminal justice data reveals a different reality for many people of color.

The prayer is the day will come when all people will be able to relate and celebrate good’s triumph over evil. Unfortunately, that day has not arrived. The body of Christ is obligated to do better and to usher in that new day.

Rev. Dr. Michael Evans Sr. is the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas, and the president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

Another response to Brandt Jean’s victim impact statement can be read here.

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