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Culture Beat / Oct. 3, 2019

The Power of Real Forgiveness

“Giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do.”

“I forgive you.” Those may be the most powerful words in the English language, and Brandt Jean uttered them in the most amazing of circumstances. Jean said he forgave Amber Guyger of murdering his brother Botham.

“I wasn’t ever going to say this in front of my family or anyone,” the 18-year-old Jean said, “but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want you to do. And the best would be to give your life to Christ. I’m not going to say anything else. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do. Again, I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”

He paused before asking the judge, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?”

When the judge answered, “Yes,” Jean and Guyger embraced for nearly a full minute, exchanging heartfelt words. It was a powerfully emotional moment in our divided nation.

You see, Guyger, who is white, was a Dallas police officer and the Jean brothers are black. Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean in September 2018 after entering what she said she thought was her apartment and discovering a man she assumed was an intruder. But amidst Black Lives Matter protests outside the court, she was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for first-degree murder.

For Brandt Jean to forgive and embrace Guyger in that atmosphere shows the true power of Jesus Christ to bring restorative forgiveness when it’s impossible for humans. Judge Tammy Kemp, also black, wept openly when the two embraced, and was moved herself to hug Guyger and tell her, “Ma'am, it’s not because I am good. It’s because I believe in Christ. None of us are worthy. Forgive yourself.” She gave a Bible to Guyger.

To the Jean family, Kemp said, “Thank you for the way you modeled Christ.”

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