I am copying here something that I got in an email. The story mentioned by this reporter has been in our local newspaper for a long time and I must confess that each time I read it, I only felt anger for those who had killed the two officers.
The news is geared toward arousing our emotions of justice and injustice. I fell into the trap, and never one time prayed for the lady (her nickname is "Little Feather") involved in the murder, but only hoped that justice would prevail.
Of course I still believe in justice prevailing, but how many times would those Sauls become Pauls if instead of reading with anger and hunger for justice, we the church could see it as an opportunity to pray for a soul in need?
I am posting this as a confession and also as an encouragement that all of the "bad news" that we see from the media can have good endings if we pray. I am so glad that this reporter and his wife were listening to God and praying for the guilty! Please pray for Tanya Smith, and the murderer, rapist, abuser, kidnapper, drug lord, thief, etc. featured in your local newspaper.
Subject: FW: Mark Rainwater's Notes
Mark Rainwater's Notes
Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:23am
I write this to you, asking that you pray for the person I'm about to tell
you about. It's a sad story that we hope will have a joyful ending.
As some of you know, I left the newspaper business about this time last
year. One of the most tragic stories I ever covered began on Aug. 10, 2007, when
two Bastrop Police Department detectives were killed in the line of duty. The
man believed to have shot the officers died in a gunfight within minutes of
their deaths. A 24-year-old woman was taken into custody two days later for her
part in the incident. I covered the multitude of hearings surrounding her case
before I left the newspaper.
She went to trial in February, and the publisher of the newspaper where I
had worked asked if I could cover her trial. My present employer graciously
agreed, so I took vacation time to cover the trial.
After each day's proceedings, I would return to my hotel room and write my
story. Before sending it to the newspaper, I would send it to Charlotte (my
remarkable bride for those who don't know), and she would proof it and call
me back with corrections. During the course of the two weeks I was there,
Charlotte often asked if the accused - Tanya Smith - had any family or
friends present to offer their support. When I told her there weren't, she was
The trial ended on a Friday night, with Tanya found guilty of two counts of
Second-degree murder and eight other weapons and drug charges. I went back
to the hotel, filed my story and returned home that night. Charlotte and I
talked that weekend about how obviously tragic this young lady's life had been and that she had no one to offer any support to her during the ordeal of her incarceration and trials. (She was also found guilty on federal weapons charges and sentenced to 27 years.)
The Sunday following the guilty verdicts, we were at church that Sunday
night when our pastor talked about God's love for us and that Jesus died on the
cross for every one of us. I leaned toward Charlotte and said, "I have to
write her a letter." Charlotte knew immediately what I meant.
For about 10 days, I applied my flawed logic to the call, coming up with a myriad of reasons why I couldn't and shouldn't. Coming home from church on Wednesday night, God basically said, "Do it, and do it now." I did.
Before I mailed the letter, I wanted the officers families to know. The
wives were receptive from the standpoint that they understood I had to heed God's call. I sat with them each day during the trial and had talked with them on
a couple of occasions about how they needed to forgive Tanya. They
acknowledged they knew they should but said they "weren't quite there yet."
I also told one of the officer's mother about the letter. She is a
remarkable Christian woman. She said she completely understood and shared this story.
She and her husband came to the trial on the last day and were there as the
verdicts were returned. She said that day in court, she looked at Tanya and
prayed, saying "God I can't do it, but I pray that you put someone in her
life that can share your love with her." "He chose you to answer my prayer, Mark"
She told me as we cried on the phone.
The letter related some similarities in our lives: Histories of substance
abuse, consequences of bad decisions. I relayed to her how God had relieved
me of the addictions I had. What I also shared with her was that God loved her just
as much as the officers who died that day and that Jesus' death on the cross
was as much for her as it was for them and you and me. I also shared with her
how much Charlotte was troubled that she had no family or friends to offer what support they could during her trial.
I had told the sheriff that I also had a Bible I wanted to get to her. He
said if I'd bring it to him he'd see that she got it. Thursday morning on my way
to work, I felt God say, "YOU need to give it to her." I asked the sheriff if
that would be possible, and he said yes. When I got to work that morning, I
found on my desk a letter she had written to me. It was like God saying,
"See! I told you!"
Expecting to spend maybe five minutes with her, our talk lasted about 40
minutes. In her letter and twice during our conversation, she asked me to
thank Charlotte for thinking of her. She shared with me a brief story of her
life - sexually abused as a child by her father at a very young age and
being raised "in the system," as she said it. She said she'd never been in an
environment where church was any part of her life. After receiving the
letter, last week, she said she attended her first church service. She told me that
morning that she wanted to share her story, saying that if there were any
money made from it that she wanted it to go to the officers families. I told
her if she read the book (Bible) I had given her and confessed her sins that
not only would God forgive her but that her story would have a much happier
ending. She said, "Mr. Rainwater, I don't know how to pray." Then, almost
jokingly, she said, "God, my name is Tanya. I don't know you." I told her
that was the perfect start and shared with her things she could and should ask
God to do for her in her walk toward him. I prayed with her, and as I left I saw
what I felt were joyful tears in her eyes.
Charlotte and I are going back to the jail this afternoon to talk with her.
I ask not that you pray for us, for God has given us a task and will equip us
with what ever we need to meet that. Our request is that you pray for Tanya,
that God will reveal His love to her, removing the hurt from her heart and
replacing it with His unspeakable joy.