Mother Forgives the Man Who Killed Her Only Son and Invites Him to Live Next Door

Mary Johnson didn’t think she had it in her to forgive the man who shot her son to his death. Years later, she calls the man her “spiritual son.”

Forgiving someone is perhaps one of the most challenging things to do, especially when the damage done is permanent. However, Mary Johnson found it in her heart to forgive a criminal following his release from prison in 2010.

Johnson previously shared the tragic day she lost her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd. At the time, someone called her at work and said her son’s body was at the morgue.

After police confirmed that the deceased man was Byrd, Johnson’s world went black. After three days, she found out who murdered her son — a 16-year-old boy named Oshea Israel. 

Johnson’s son was shot in the head during a party in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Israel was the man who pulled the trigger that led to his death. She said:

“Here was I, a Christian woman, full of hatred. I was pleased he was going to be tried as an adult for first-degree murder, so when the judge suddenly changed the charge to second-degree murder, I was mad.”

Admittedly, Johnson saw Israel as nothing less than an animal. Although she later said she forgave him, deep inside, her anger still ran deep.

The two have since shared not just a front porch but also a wonderful story that continues to inspire forgiveness.

For the next two years, Johnson wanted to be alone and resented everyone around her. Then one day, she came across a poem about two mothers — the mom of a murdered child and the mom of a murderer.

The piece of literature moved her in ways no one else could. In fact, she envisioned an organization that would support mothers whose kids were murdered and those whose children were murderers.

“I knew then that I would never be able to deal with these mothers if I hadn’t really forgiven Oshea,” she said. So she went out of her way to meet him in prison.

Johnson and Israel talked for hours, and during this time, she saw how sorry he was. After that, she was able to find it in her heart to forgive the man who murdered her son.

Hoping to help the boy even more, Johnson organized a welcoming party for Israel after his time behind bars. Israel was a different person and wanted to share his story with others, hoping to be a beacon of hope.

“I couldn’t believe he wanted to do this,” Johnson said. “He is my spiritual son. It’s not easy for us to stand next to each other, again and again, and share our story, but I say to other mothers that talking and sharing your story is the road to healing.”

Israel moved back to his childhood neighborhood and lived next to Johnson. The two have since shared not just a front porch but also a wonderful story that continues to inspire forgiveness.

A similar story previously happened when couple Fernando and Elizabeth Jimenez forgave the man who killed their daughter. Like Johnson, they even let him live with them for some time. Their story continues to surprise others.

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