Charlie Owens looks like a regular guy. He’s laid back, to the point, loving, quiet, and from outward appearances, just a normal man. He and his wife run a small deli in their town and without knowing his story you would never look twice at the man.
Oh, but his story…wow.
A long time ago, as a young man, Charlie got into trouble. He was thrown in prison for several days and tortured – beaten for information. When he left that prison a seed of bitterness was planted within him. He hated the police. He vowed to never return to prison. It was hell on earth and he felt nothing but pain and anxiety at the mere thought of it. Every time he saw a police officer he would fill with fear. Whatever his life path after that experience, he knew for sure he would never set foot in a prison again.
Fast forward 30+ years. Charlie has since found healing from his past pains. He experienced forgiveness and restoration. Through an unlikely turn of events, Charlie was asked to mentor a young man… in prison. Charlie agreed. Through that one relationship, Charlie began to return to the prison on a regular basis, eventually starting a School of Ministry within the prison. Hundreds of men have found Jesus through this, and they are a seeing miracles and transformation happening all the time. The prison is becoming a beacon of hope and love. (There is so much more to this story…listen to the podcast episode with Charlie Owens.)
So, to sum up this story with the theme of this article: The thing that caused Charlie so much pain and bitterness at one point in his life (prison), is the very thing that God has called him to heal and transform.
You see, redemption is much more than healing. True redemption carries with it authority to heal and transform the very thing that caused the pain in the first place. Not just heal it…but make it better.
A prisoner named Alex who was in the School of Ministry that Charlie was leading, was in prison because he had murdered the son of a woman named Pam 15 years ago. After 10 years, Pam made contact with Alex, offered him forgiveness, and eventually led him to Jesus. Yes, this man was led to Jesus by the woman whose son he had murdered. Wow.
That is redemption. Anyone could have pointed that man to Jesus. God used the LAST person on earth he would have expected. (But it was the FIRST person God chose.)
But wait…that is only the beginning of the story.
Pam was diagnosed with cancer. During a couple of visits together, Alex prayed over Pam through the Plexiglas and demanded that the cancer leave her body. Fast forward a week or two. Pam received the results of a biopsy that was performed on her tumor…no cancer was found. (This is a VERY summed up version of this story. Listen to the podcast to hear the whole thing!)
So just to summarize: God brought healing to a woman using the man who killed her son. That takes redemption to a whole different level. Redemption is more powerful than we think.
Whatever your circumstance. God can redeem. The result of redemption is more powerful than we know. God does not simply heal and restore…he takes that thing that caused us so much pain and makes something better. He gives you authority over that pain and then opens doors for you to heal it in others.
Charlie is transforming a prison.
Pam is healed of cancer.
There are countless other stories like these.
If you are dealing with pain, un-forgiveness, or grief, then your story is primed for redemption. Let God in. He writes the best stories. Let Him write yours.