telling the truth

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” ~Jesus


No one really understands why he did it.

By anyone’s account, Eddie Vernon was a fairly normal, well-adjusted seventh grade student at Audobon Middle School in East Cleveland, Ohio. He delivered newspapers to earn a little extra money, and played various sports in the streets with his friends after school.

One day, there was a murder in Eddie’s neighborhood. On May 19, 1975, Harry Franks was collecting money order payments from a local neighborhood market as part of his regular job duties. When he stepped outside, he was splashed with battery acid and shot twice in the head for the small amount of money that he was carrying.

No one really understands why he did it, because Eddie never saw the murder take place. Nonetheless, when the police asked if anyone had witnessed the terrible act, Eddie stepped forward. Over the next several weeks, Eddie would feed information to the police. When the police needed names of suspects, Eddie gave them the names of some local neighborhood boys. When the police needed a witness to take the stand in the coming trial, Eddie would comply giving a testimony that was ultimately inconsistent at best.

And that is how Ricky Jackson ended up spending 39 years in prison for crime that he never committed.

In 2006, after spending 31 years behind bars, Ricky learned of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP). The OIP is a group of volunteers, dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongly incarcerated. After hearing the details of Ricky’s case, the OIP sought out a now much older Eddie Vernon. Originally, Eddie staunchly refused to visit with anyone about the case. In fact, it would take about two more years before Eddie was willing to come forward with the truth.

One night, after visiting with his pastor, Eddie burst into tears. After so very many years, Eddie was finally ready to set things right.

Last November, Ricky was granted another hearing. Today, Ricky James is a free man.

When asked about how he felt about Eddie Vernon, Ricky replied, “Even when I was in prison, I feel like I had a better life. He couldn’t have a life. He had…ghosts following him around. Despite what people say, without him, I’d still be in prison. He’s the one who put me there, and he was the one who eventually got me out. All is forgiven in my book.”

It is difficult to live with the ghosts and grudges of the past. Whether you’re afraid of the consequences of what you’ve done, or angered by the injustices committed against you, the ghosts and grudges of the past eventually become chains that prevent you from living in the abundant life that God has had in mind for you from the very beginning.

No matter how long you have carried the ghosts and grudges of the past, choose this year to embrace truth and forgiveness. If you do, then you will probably be surprised by the freedom that God brings your way.[1]

[1] Information and quotes taken from an article written by Jacob Baynham and originally published in the Christian Science Monitor on April 13, 2015.

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