After several unsuccessful attempts to find a prison ministry that would forward the afghan and letter to the federal penitentiary where he is located, I ended up calling the prison myself. I spoke with the Prison Chaplain, who told me that maximum security prisoners are not allowed to receive these kinds of items. That was a bummer! But more importantly, the Chaplain went on to warn me of how dangerous the prisoners there were, and because he was not familiar with my attacker, the odds are great that he was not a practicing Christian. He said that while it's possible that Keith would be touched by my prayers for his salvation, it was also very possible that he could have a negative, and potentially dangerous reaction. The Chaplain did his best to remind me that although I may be disappointed by what appears to have been the inability to go through with an act of obedience that God placed on my heart, that I've done my part and that God can take the next steps with Keith if it's His will. He also reminded me of my own words posted here:
There are a few other things I've realized about forgiveness:
It doesn't matter whether or not the person you're forgiving has asked for forgiveness, or even thinks that he/she needs forgiving. The act of forgiving if more about you than about them anyway. It's about making the life-altering shift from "victim" to "survivor".
Understanding "why" is not essential to forgiveness. I know that I will never understand how human beings can hurt each other as much as we do, and I'm not even sure that KT knows why he did what he did to me. At this point, "why" is a useless question that will tie me up in knots for the rest of my life if I let it.Forgiveness doesn't necessarily involved publically acknowledging your forgiveness to the person you are forgiving. If you were hurt by a stranger, you may not even know who they are or how to contact them. They may not know that you have forgiven them, but God knows. And that's the most important thing. By all means, if it's possible and appropriate, let the person know you have forgiven them, but don't use the inability to tell them you have forgiven them as an excuse for not doing so.
So, once I got over the initial disappointment, I realized that there was another pressing issue at hand... I had a grey lap afghan with a very limited distribution potential. I prayed for God's guidance in determining who I should give the afghan to, particularly in light of my initial intentions while making it. Almost immediately, Ann suggested that I give it to a Bible College student that she has "adopted". Over the past several weeks she's been calling Bible Colleges and asking if there are any students there who are "on fire for the Lord" and who are in need of a blessing... prayers, financial assistance, phone cards, clothing, whatever. Francis was one of the first students she learned of, and I think he's been just as much of a blessing to us as we have been to him during the short time that we have been corresponding with him.
I hope to share his testimony here soon once I have his permission to do so, but I'm sure that he wouldn't mind me sharing with you the letter I received from him yesterday after receiving the afghan.
Thank you most sincerely for God touching you and putting you in my life. Your special gifts and nice words go a long way to building His kingdom in miraculous ways. They also tell tales that are hard to forget.
It amazes me how our God does things. When our understanding, energy and wisdom come to zerio, He manifests Himself by opening unsuspected doors with all precious things flowing.
Hardly did I know that His angles were already at work to 'feed' me as they did to Elijah (through the birds) when he was so desperate and desired to die than to live. "Why worry when you can pray?" was the challenge I got by your generosity.
I heartily appreciate your check, and much more, the lap quilt which will remind me of your love when the check will be long spent.
May I wish you all God's blessings in your life and your Knitting Ministry.
In Christ Jesus' love,
I probably don't need to tell you that I cried like a baby while reading Francis' letter, and for quite some time thereafter. God is so amazing. Just think, I made that lap afghan originally for the man who raped me. As God asked, I made it, I prayed for his salvation, I wrote to him and shared that letter in the hopes that someone else may in some way be helped by the healing process I went through while doing it. Despite my initial disappointment that it didn't end up where I thought it would, God has made sure that it touched yet another life in an amazing way.
Sometimes we mistakenly believe that it requires a lot of time, money and other resources to reach out to the body of Christ and truly make a difference. That is a lie perpetuated by the enemy. The simple act of crocheting a lap afghan has touched more lives than I'll probaby ever know: I've received the most encouraging e-mails from women who read about this here on my blog, one of those women said that she spoke of my journey to forgiveness at her Bible Study class (I believe she lives in Colorado - on the other side of the country!), the Chaplain at the penitentiary, and of course, dear Francis. I am humbled and amazed that God desires to use me in such simple, yet powerful ways. I am honored to be a set of His hands here on Earth. If you're wondering why I KNT4GD (my license tag), this is why. Care to join me?