Amazing and extraordinary things happen to all of us through our journey here on earth; some very good and some very very bad.
In January this year I wrote a blog entitled “Consequences”. In that blog I fictionalised a story set in World War 2 – a story where our hero or anti-hero killed a man who was looting from his friends home during the blitz.
It wasn’t until the man actually came face to face with an encounter with God that he realised his need of forgiveness and ‘owned-up’ to his crime
The consequences of our past sins, although forgiven by God can still have far-reaching effects on our lives as well as those who may have been hurt in the process.
In this blog I would like to relate the true story of George Anderson Hopper and where I will not dwell on the “consequences” of sin, I would like to emphasise the utter forgiveness of our gracious and merciful Lord; also try to come to terms with the age old question “where was God in all of this?”
George Anderson Hopper was born on the 10th June, 1955 and was executed by lethal injection on 8th March, 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder-for-hire of 33 year old Ms Rozanne Gailiunas.
Hopper was sentenced to death in 1988 for the October 1983 murder of Ms Gailinuas who at 33 was the mother of a 4 year old son.
Ms Gailinuas was found still alive by her young son, but died two days after being admitted to hospital.
Hopper was ‘hired’ to kill Ms Gailinuas by William Garland who had been paid $5,000 by Dallas socialite Joy David Aylor whose husband Larry was allegedly planning to marry Ms Gailinuas and had filed for divorce from his wife.
Mrs Aylor who was ultimately convicted of capital murder in 1994 and who is now serving a life sentence.
Hopper’s life and the tragic events leading up to and after the murder of Ms Gailinuas has been the subject of two book and a tele-movie but they don’t tell of his obvious conversion to Christianity at sometime during his time on death row.
After searching the net and pouring over heaps of information on Hopper, the only evidence I have of a changed life of this man is in his final words before the lethal injection did it’s work.
His final words as he lay on the table that day in 2005 were and I quote:-
“I want to apologize to you, and I am sorry, I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. The things I did changed so many lives. I can’t take it back, it was an atrocity. I am sorry. I beg your forgiveness, I know I am not worthy of it. I love you Mom and Dad, and all my family. Thank you for everything. Jesus, thank you for your love and saving grace. Thank you for shedding your blood on Calvary for me. Thank you Jesus for the love you have shown me.”
Obviously some unknown person has shared the gospel with this guy and obviously he has made a commitment to Christ. From his last words it would appear that he had accepted Jesus as his Saviour and Lord.
Against all odds, this man who was so vicious; so hard; so calculating; so cruel as to murder this young woman and mother of a 4 year old child, in such an horrendous manner, had been touched by the hand of Jesus even as he sat in death row in that jail in Huntsville Texas.
We will never understand exactly how God works and how exactly this man had been changed, or for that matter who it was that brought the good news into that jail for him to hear.
What we do know is that if he was sincere in his repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord, then he would have been forgiven his sins for as it says in John 6:37b “….and he who comes to me I will in no wise cast out”
So glad that this verse is in the Bible because there have been many times that I failed our Lord so miserably.
There have been times when I have honestly come to Him wondering how and why He could ever forgive me.
Hopper was a wicked and vile sinner who deserved nothing from God or man BUT aren’t we all?
God was merciful to Hopper even after all of what he did – Yes, he still had to pay the consequences of his sin as we all do and yes, his life was forfeit here on earth according to Texan law; but God says “I will in no wise cast out”. Full stop. Thank you Lord for that full stop because there was no “unless” after it.
There are no conditions put on coming to Christ; no provisos; nothing we can do; we just come to Him, repent and accept His gracious gift.
So if I come to Jesus; He will not cast me out. Hopper came to Jesus and I am sure that Jesus, true to His word would not cast Him out.
All of salvation is GRACE . It is the GRACE that God chose to save the ungodly; it is GRACE that Jesus came to earth to secure our salvation by dying at Calvary, and it is GRACE that changes stony old hearts to hearts of flesh; all through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can come to Jesus at all. It was only through that same Spirit that Hopper came to Jesus too.
The Bible makes that perfectly clear in 1 Corinthians 12: 3 it says:- “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
So George Anderson Hopper, convicted murderer was led by the Spirit to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and he had accepted Him to be his Saviour before his execution date on 8th March, 2005.
Amazing news, incredible and awesome – everybody, no matter who we are or what we have done can come to Jesus, repent of our sins and claim forgiveness through the blood of His sacrifice.
But what about Hopper’s innocent victim, Rozanne Gailiunas, her young son and her family and extended family?
Where was God in all of that; where was He when she was dying an horrific death?
It is so hard for us to get our minds around this eternal question!
What about the parents who pray and pray for the sick child and yet their child never gets well; how about broken relationships that never come back together; how about businesses that fail; and how about horrendous murders like Rozanne’s?
Life, it seems is just made up of tribulations and trials of every sort; situations completely out of control; completely out of left wing; everything going pear-shaped; Where is God?
There are some things that we will never understand; there are some things about God’s will that we will never understand.
But, what God does do through our trials is to give us a perspective as to how to handle our situation when bad things happen.
What would it be like if my greatest crisis become my greatest opportunity; not so much in the crisis
itself but in my very life?
What if a miracle took place through my crisis? Again, not so much in the actual crisis, but in me?
What if God used my crisis as a blessing to others and in so doing became a blessing to me also? In other words what if the Miracle in the crisis was ME?
I wonder what it would be like to seize the opportunity of my crisis to actually SEE God’s glory?
After all of that I still have no idea How Rozanne’s family and extended family coped with that tragedy; or for that matter where they all stood with God.
All I know is whatever happens, our God is just and merciful and whatever he decides will be fair and accurate.
So when things go pear-shaped, frustrating and confusing; I wonder if it would be possible to seize the opportunity to see the potential to trust in Jesus more instead of blaming Him for whatever it is that is sinking our ship.
Thinking like that makes me wonder; just maybe our greatest set-backs may become our greatest building blocks to a miraculous and super natural relationship with our Heavenly Father.