Thursday, 14 May 2009

Garry and the Outrage of Grace

Garry is a good friend.  I met him a couple of years back through a choir I used to sing in.  Around 13 years ago, Garry was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing a man in the throat during a street-fight.  His case was a sad example of the mindless violence that blights Glasgow's housing schemes.  The victim was an innocent man in his 40s who was merely trying to break up a ruck.  His was truly a hateful and wicked act. 

Prison wasn't the easy ride everyone suspects it is.  One of Garry's earliest experiences was witnessing a man next to him in a communal shower having his face slashed open with a razor.  Fear and terror gripped him as he realised what these guys were capable of without the influence of drink and drugs.

When in prison, Garry came to a saving faith in Christ through the ministry of Prison Fellowship.  The testimony of a reformed hitman blew him away and the knowledge that God would be the Father to him that he always needed melted his heart.  In prison, Garry went on to study music and OT Hebrew.  After 11 years in prison, he was released on parole.

Since his release, Garry has been touring churches, giving his testimony and singing songs to the God who saved him.  He has also been working in Glasgow schools, warning pupils over the menace of drink, drugs and knives.

On Sunday evening, Garry appeared on BBC1's Songs of Praise, told a bit of his story and sang a song about God's grace in the sacraments.  The fallout in the media has not been good.  The Daily Record and The Sun tabloids have printed less than flattering stories about him.  The victim's family are understandably outraged.  The media, which so flagrantly promote lewd views of sex, twist facts to sell stories and enjoy salacious descriptions of violence to pander to the bloodlust of it's readership, has manipulated a grieving family, exacerbated their pain and put Garry at the risk of vendetta.  Here is the scandal of the cross working itself out in the nitty gritty of life's seeming futility.

Contrary to the stories, Garry is deeply sorry, but feels saying so would be insulting to those close to the victim.  Pray for Garry and his family.  Pray for the grieving family of the victim.


Steven Carr said...

Thanks for this. I work in prison ministry, and it always good to hear about inmates who came under the saving power of the gospel. Many inmates face difficult challenges after they become converted. Garry's story is an illustration of the challenges that our brothers and sisters in Christ behind bars and on parole face. I will pray for him.

Nick Mackison said...

Thanks Steven. He's living with the consequences of his crime and believes he will be murdered one day. A lot of people hate him (understandably).

The grace of God truly is remarkable.