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To Forgive is Divine: Woman Allows Sons Murderer to Move in Next Door

Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel

Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel

If it’s human to err and divine to forgive, a mother who has forgiven her son’s murderer must be really, really divine.

Laramiun Byrd was just 20 when he was shot to death in 1993 during an argument at a party in North Minneapolis. His killer, Oshea Israel, was just 16. He spent 17 years in prison before being released recently.

He has since moved back to his old neighborhood and next door to Laramiun’s mother, Mary Johnson.

“He was an animal. He deserved to be caged,” Mary told CBS News.

A few years before he was released, however, she asked if she could meet the man who tool the life of her only child at Minnesota’s Stillwater prison. Mary is a devout Christian and wanted to see if she could find a way to forgive Oshea.

According to Oshea, they met regularly in prison after the first meeting when she had said to him, “Look, you don’t know me. I don’t know you. Let’s just start with right now.”

When he was released from prison, she introduced Oshea to her landlord and with Mary’s approval, he moved in to the building next door, and they remain emotionally close as well as physically close.

She credits God with her ability to forgive.

“Unforgiveness is like cancer,” Mary says. “It will eat you from the inside out. It’s not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he’s done. Yes, he murdered my son – but the forgiveness is for me. It’s for me.”

Oshea, on the other hand, says he hasn’t totally forgiven himself and is working to improve and forgive himself. He works a day job at a recycling plant and attends college at night. And he travels to prisons and churches to talk about Mary and forgivenesss

“A conversation can take you a long way,” Oshea said to one group.

If Mary Johnson doesn’t inspire you to let a grudge go today, then I don’t know what will.

Image: CBS News

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