The Regret of a Death Row Inmate
Shava Macdonald from Harare, Zimbabwe
I came to deeply realize how brutal the sin I committed in heaven is and how great God Elohim’s love is.
As our Bulawayo Zion is situated near National University of Science and Technology, we have been granted the grace of meeting different kinds of people from different walks of life. One day, I met an old man as I was waiting for the appointment to study with new members. This man started walking towards where I was seated, carrying a plastic bag filled with old books and clothes. When he arrived, I greeted him, and after that, he just started to narrate the story of his life as follows:
“My son, I am sorry to bother you but I really need your help. I was released from prison last week on the general amnesty. I was convicted of murder in 1985 on account of having killed my wife and uncle. After the murder, I was taken to court and was given a death sentence. At that very moment, I saw the end of the world. At first, I thought I was dreaming, but later I realized that it was real that I was going to meet the end of my life.
That very day, my name was listed among the death row inmates. In this country, if you are sentenced to death, you are labeled as condemned. Condemned prisoners [murderers] are not allowed to spend any time with their relatives and must be isolated from society. They can never come back to society. Since my family was afraid of me after the incident, the day I was sentenced to death, even my family felt relieved. Many of them said that I didn’t deserve to be pardoned and that I deserved to die.
That very night, I was transported to the central prison where the condemned were kept until their day of execution. When I got there, there were many people who were waiting for death like me. I was given the prison uniform and a big letter ‘V’ on my arm like others as a sign of those who were to die soon. To make ourselves relieved from the stress about our death penalty, we started to live a normal life like chatting about the life outside prison and playing games. However, whenever an inmate is hanged, there is a siren and silence. You know there are some who will die that day, but you never know if it will be you or not. We would be struck with fear in such moments but then later forget about it, knowing that at some point I will die, too.
Then one day, I ended up contracting tuberculosis. I was exempted from death sentence in jail, for the sick will die on their own. I lived there this long, and as the amnesty came, I was set free from prison. However, no one wanted me back home.
Now I regret the sin I committed. I thought of hanging myself since I am still unforgiven in society and even my relatives reject me. Whenever I tell people about this story, no one pities me and some tell me directly that I am evil. I am living a life of regret today and will never be at peace because of my sin.”
While listening to him, I realized a lot. The first thought that came to my mind was that if the unforgivable sin in this shadow world is this serious that you would have to live such painful and distressful life for lifetime, how much more grave was my sin in the real world in heaven? Just as the old man was sentenced to death because of his felony, I was destined to die, for the wages of very grave sin I committed in heaven is death. I imagined the whole host of heavenly angels reporting to Father and Mother about every single sin I committed. Just like the old man was sent to prison, I was thrown to this earth, which is the prison of our souls, and have to wait for death here. I truly came to understand that this earth is a spiritual prison.
Many people in this world console themselves with physical things because they don’t remember what they did in heaven just as the inmates in this story found something to do just to make themselves forget about death. The most heartbreaking part for me is that the heavenly family members in heaven would have suffered pain and sorrow because of me who committed a felony. I was so sorry to Heavenly Father and Mother that Father, Mother, brothers, and sisters had suffered and grieved because of my sin.
Just like the old man in the story was rejected from society, I was rejected from the heavenly society. Because of my sin, I don’t deserve anything. However, to reveal the degree of my sin and to redeem me, Heavenly Father came down to this earth and suffered on the cross. Heavenly Mother too came to the earth to save this sinner. When I think of how Heavenly Mother is suffering and sacrificing for this sinner, I am torn apart. I am grateful to God for forgiving and loving this child who rebelled against God with stubbornness and disobedience.
I give thanks to Heavenly Father and Mother for allowing me to see my spiritual status through the old man who was a death row inmate. Please help us all overcome our sinful nature and become beautiful children, whom you are pleased with, through complete repentance and unity. I give eternal thanks to God for His great love and sacrifice for this sinner.