Forgiveness is a common topic covered in the Bible. Most Christians strive to forgive but it is hard for many, particularly those who experience great sadness through the evil acts of other people. One act of forgiveness from the family of a murdered man may have helped to save the murderer’s soul.
Harry Mitts Jr. will be executed today barring a pardon that is very unlikely to happen. He’s okay with that. In fact, he claims that he’s ready to see Jesus. If he truly has repented and accepted Yeshua into his life, then he can thank the Holy Spirit (of course) and an unexpected source that gave him a Bible shortly after he was sentenced to death: the family of one of his victims.
Mitts shot and killed 44-year-old Sgt. Dennis Glivar and John Bryant on August 14, 1994. Three months later, shortly after being sentenced to death, he received a Bible with his name inscribed in it. It was given to him through the jail chaplain as a gift from the mother and sister of Sgt. Glivar. Along with the Bible was a letter from the victim’s sister, Cheryl Janoviak, telling him that she and her mother forgave Mitts for what he had done.
“What my mom and I did was only a portion of what God desired to draw Mr. Mitts to the cross and the saving, redeeming, wonderful, cleansing grace that is available to all,” Janoviak said last week.
In the 19 years since murdering two men, Mitts says that he has found the Lord.
“I look forward to that date, should it happen,” he wrote. “I know it probably sounds strange, as most folks like to hang on to this life as long as possible, but my reason for desiring to be executed is simple. I’ll be in the presence of Jesus, and I will never sin against God again!”
Forgiveness is one of the greatest challenges that many Christians have to face. We can easily be filled with hatred towards people who wrong us, but to truly walk along the proper path, we must be willing to have forgiveness in our hearts and to be open about it. The two women know that nothing they do could bring their loved one back. In their sorrow, they found the strength to extend the word of God to one who many would hate under the circumstances. Their gift, the gift of the Word, was given with sincerity in their hearts and with love in the words that came with it.
“As Jesus forgave and still forgives, my mother and I also forgive you,” Janoviak wrote to Mitts in 1994. “Had you died on August 14, 1994, your eternal home would have been in hell. In God’s mercy, your life was spared, and He spared your life to allow you this time to choose where you want to spend eternity.”