In October, I participated in another Restorative Justice week, and the follow-ups are still underway. As mentioned in a previous newsletter, the RJ week is a 36hour program addressing the specific crimes of the offenders. It is a very confrontational program where we challenge the students to come clean about the details of their crime, taking responsibility for their actions. We put the victim at the centre of this process and discuss the impact that crime has on victims, their families and even the families of the offender – not to mention the wider community. The program is considered a foundational step towards a victim-offender dialogue.
We live in a very cruel and unfair world where people conceive such perverse desires that they are losing their humanity! But the love of God is able to overcome the darkest evil.
It was an exceptionally deep and emotional week for all who were involved. There are many stories that I could share; many profound, painful and powerful things that God has overcome in the broken people that we walk alongside as a ministry. But I am also aware that these are not easy things to hear, or read. Not easy to understand or perceive.
To some family members, the reality of their loved ones actions comes as an absolute shock. Parents weep, often mothers lose the strength to stand. Offenders are reduced to puddles of tears as they confront the shame of their crimes. Across these painful moments, one thing always remains true; that with the pain comes freedom. After the tears and the anguish comes healing and a new born trust. The hope of restoration. Because, the key to freedom is TRUTH.