Letting go and Holding an Enemy’s Hand

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

While vacationing in Michigan with my husband Jeff, we purposely arranged to meet and talk with two amazing men. What makes these men so amazing is their unlikely friendship following some major turn of events in their lives. Here’s their story, as reported by Steve Hartman, CBS News April 15, 2016*.

Andrew CollinsAndrew Collins, a former Benton Harbor, Michigan police officer falsely arrested Jameel Mcgee in 2005 for dealing drugs. Jameel was sentenced to prison.

*”It was all made up,” said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree.

Andrew Collins served time for a number of crimes, including framing Jameel McGee for selling drugs

“I falsified the report,” former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted.

“Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest.” And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail.

“I lost everything,” McGeee said. “My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him.”

Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Maybe a little too small.

Andrew and JameelLast year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out.

After they both served time, Jameel and Andrew now work side by side in a cafe

“I said, ‘Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry,'” Collins explained.

McGee says that was all it took. “That was pretty much what I needed to hear.”

Today they’re not only cordial, they’re friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him.

Jameel and Andrew“And I just started weeping because he doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that,” Collins said.

But he didn’t forgive just for his sake, even for Collins’. “For our sake,” McGee said. “Not just us, but for our sake.”

McGee went on to CBS News about his Christian faith, and his hope for a kinder mankind. He wants to be an example — so now he and Collins give speeches together about the importance of forgiveness and redemption.

And clearly, if these two guys from the coffee shop can set aside their bitter grounds, what’s our excuse?

Our Meeting

Us with Andrew and JameelJeff and I sat across from Andrew and Jameel in the Mosaic Café as they reiterated their story of forgiveness and redemption.

Andrew shared he had been raised as a Christian but he had not fully trusted his life to Christ until he came to the end of himself through this journey.

Jameel clearly identified the need to “hold onto the hand of Jesus” during his four years behind bars, and now testifies to the power of God’s grace and forgiveness in his own life which ultimately led him to forgive Andrew.

Andrew told us that the Mosaic Café ministry gave him a place to not only earn a paycheck, but more importantly has allowed him to give back to the community where his corrupt lifestyle hurt so many people.

“So how did you two reconcile?” I asked.

Jameel told us that although he was extremely sad that he had missed out on four years of his son’s life while imprisoned, he was sincerely grateful for God’s intervention in his life, which had been heading down a one-way street to destruction.

After returning to Benton Harbor, Jameel was referred to the Mosaic Café ministry and was told that he would be mentored by Andrew Collins. His initial reaction: “What? No way am I going to hook up with this dude…he’s the one who sent me to prison.” But after meeting Andrew face to face, he felt God’s forgiveness fill his heart as they shook hands. Andrew admitted, he hadn’t recognized Jameel’s name when given his new mentorship assignment, but quickly realized this was the man he falsely accused and sent to prison.

Andrew told us that at first he didn’t think this would work out, and wouldn’t blame Jameel for refusing to be paired up with him. I (Charmé) believe the Holy Spirit began His work by softening Jameel’s heart when Andrew asked him “What can I do to make this up to you? I’m so sorry for everything I put you through.” Jameel said “That’s all I need!”

The two men now serve together in the Christian Mosaic Café and bring the light and the love of Jesus to others who walk through the doors of this little town café.

While waiting for Andrew to join us at our table, I overheard Andrew sharing words of hope and encouragement to a man who had just sat down at the counter to order some coffee.

Andrew and Jameel Mosaic CafeGod is opening new doors for Jameel and Andrew to tell their story of forgiveness and redemption to schools, churches, and other organizations across the country.

Holding His Hand

It’s easier said than done…to love our enemies and pray for them. And it’s nearly impossible without first holding the hand of Jesus. Whenever I think of people who have hurt me, and those I have hurt, it helps me to let go of past wounds by recalling these last words of Jesus spoken from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

When we hold onto bitterness toward another person (who was created in the image of God), we soon become imprisoned to our own sin. We forfeit true inner peace with God and with the person we refuse to forgive.

I am thankful to have met Andrew and Jameel, who truly live out the love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus.

I am attempting to raise some financial support for Andrew and Jameel to speak in our community. If interested, please contact me at covenantheirs@gmail.com

To learn more about Andrew and Jameel and speaking opportunities: http://ambassadorspeakers.com/ACP/speakers.aspx?name=ANDREW%20COLLINS%20&%20JAMEEL%20MCGEE&speaker=5754

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About Jeff & Charmé

Over the past several years, I've (Charmé) written blog posts about my greatest passion--intentionally passing my faith in Christ to the next generation, beginning with our family. I've been married to Jeff forever! We love spending time with our three children, six grandchildren, two son-in-laws, and our rabbit-chasing beagle, Pepper. Jeff and I are blessed to have served as pastor and wife for twenty years at four Nazarene churches. In June 2019, we prayerfully stepped away from pastoral assignment so that we could spend more time with our family (especially our grandchildren), and to serve the LORD wherever He leads us. We are passionate about living for Jesus and helping others do the same. Realizing that we are living in a world that desperately needs a Savior, it is our desire to come along side of families and churches by providing resources that will strengthen and equip parents, grandparents, and families live out their faith in Christ in their homes and everywhere they go. Covenant Heirs provides this blog site along with a speaking ministry to help encourage and equip parents, grandparents, and others to intentionally live a life of faithfulness to God, so that the next generation will know God, love God, and follow His commands. Please contact us at covenantheirs@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more about us and our ministry. Holding His Hand blog (2016) is dedicated to my mom, Audrey Lewis, who learned to trust in Jesus during her battle with cancer. This blog testifies to God's amazing love and provision in our lives.
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2 Responses to Letting go and Holding an Enemy’s Hand

  1. Lynn Bilyeu says:

    This is wonderful, friend. 👍🏼🙂 You are an awesome person and I know you hear “well done, good and faithful servant” every night when you lay your head on your pillow. 😍 Let me send you a check for $25 to help with your goal. Wish it could be more. Give me your address. Ty! Btw. We finally almost have our kitchen all wrapped up. Come anytime! Before and after pics on fb message. Love you girlie.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Charmé says:

      Thank you, Lynn. It was such a blessed time during our visit with these two men. This was during our trip after we left Decatur, seeing all our friends. Thank you for the offer to contribute, however, I’m waiting on the Lord, to see how He will provide in and through our community. Use that $25 to come see us. Love you…

      Like

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