Friday, January 11, 2008

Restoring Justice

Pastor Brady Boyd calls it the "highlight of my ministry" -- seeing the parents of the man who shot up his church be embraced by the parents of two teenage sisters who were killed in the attack.

"The four of them met and hugged and cried," said Boyd, the senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"It made me evaluate my own life and think, 'Is there anyone I'm not forgiving?'"

Boyd was referring to a meeting on January 3 between Ron and Loretta Murray, whose 24-year-old son Matthew carried out the December 9 attack at New Life Church, and David and Marie Works, whose daughters, Stephanie, 18, and Rachael, 16, were killed in the rampage. David Works also was wounded in the shootings.

The pastor said he invited the Murrays to visit the New Life campus after praying over the holidays. The family immediately accepted his invitation and was given a guided "step-by-step" tour of where the rampage took place and shown where their son died.

"It was extremely emotional. They wanted to hear the details. I kept telling them I would stop with details, but they wanted to hear them," he told CNN in a phone interview this week.

At one point, the parents also met with security guard Jeanne Assam, who shot their son in the leg before he turned his gun on himself. The parents thanked Assam for her swift action and for helping save more lives, said Casey Nikoloric, a Murray family spokeswoman and long-time friend.

"They told Assam that they were so deeply sorry she had to do what she did," said Nikoloric. "There were tears, lots of embraces, prayers."

The visit, she said, was "very, very, very important" in the healing process for the Murrays as they deal with the loss of their son and the terror he inflicted.

Boyd agreed. "I thought this would be best for the Murrays," he said, adding that it touched everyone involved.

"I've never seen repentance and forgiveness as profound as I did that day."

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