I came across the amazing story of Judy Lawson and Richard Wine by reading Art Lindsley’s book Love: the Ultimate Apologetic published by InterVarsity Press. What follows is a lengthy excerpt from pages 108-110. This is truly a remarkable story, and one that is only possible because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
“I met Richard Wine when I visited a prison in southern Florida. His story is unique. He came to believe in Christ because of the mother of the man he murdered!
You can imagine Judy Lawson’s anger and bitterness toward this man who murdered her son. Judy was a Christian and even involved in prison ministry, but she was consumed by her anger toward Richard. Finally one day she knelt down and gave her anger to God. She prayed that Richard, the killer of her son, would come to believe in Jesus. That was a major victory.
But Judy didn’t stop there. She decided to write to Richard in the maximum-security prison where he was serving a life sentence. She wrote something to the effect that she was praying for him and that if he asked for forgiveness for his sins, including the murder of her son, Christ would forgive him.
When Richard got Judy’s first letter, he threw it away, thinking she was crazy. But Judy persisted. Over the next five years she wrote occasional letters to the same effect. It started to get under Richard’s skin and really bothered him. While he spent two weeks in solitary confinement, he decided to read through the Bible. When he got to the book of Isaiah, something started to happen in his heart. By the time he had finished the New Testament, he had committed his life to Christ.
The first thing Richard did when he got out of the “hole” was to write Judy and tell her that he had made the commitment to follow Christ. He wanted her to be the first to know.
Judy decided to visit him in that prison. You can imagine their first meeting, when Richard asked Judy for forgiveness for the murder of her son, and she granted it!
Richard knew that he needed to grow in Christ, so he enrolled in a Bible correspondence course. He didn’t know how to type, so Judy would occasionally type his papers. Their relationship developed to the point where she would regularly worship at her church and then drive down to worship with Richard in the prison chapel. As I spoke in the chapel one Sunday morning, the two were sitting together, a visible witness to the power of Christ to reconcile even the worst bitterness.
Just before I arrived at the prison, Judy Lawson had presented a Bible to Richard Wine. Inside the front cover she had inscribed, “To Richard, my beloved adopted son, from your adopted mother.”
Only the grace and forgiveness of Christ can do that! When people hear this story, they often say, “I couldn’t do that.” I don’t know if I could either. It took Judy about ten years to get to that point. All I know is that Judy loved Richard as Christ loved her and forgave him as Christ forgave her. After we have done all the things that sent Christ to the cross, he not only forgives us when we ask but he adopts us into his family.”