It was an unprovoked attack ? veins in Jimmy’s neck were severed after his killer, Jake Fahri, had thrown a Pyrex dish full of sausages at him in a rage. Fahri is currently serving a life sentence for murder.
Barry and Margaret Mizen have recounted the story of how their son died so many times, you might be forgiven for thinking they’d become immune to telling it. They have the air of people who are very used to being interviewed, but they’ve lost none of their humanity.
It’s always been this way for them. Even in the early days, people were asking who was doing their PR because of the gracious way in which they spoke to the press; the answer was no one. God, they say, was directing their speech as they talked to thegathered press about forgiving their son’s killer, and praying for his family.
‘I can’t get them [Fahri’s parents] out of my mind,’ Margaret said at the time, ‘because what’s happened to Jimmy is the worst thing possible, but we’ve got such wonderful memories. They haven’t got wonderful memories [of] their son. All they can think about is the evil he’s done. My prayers are with the family, that’s all I can say. I don’t feel anger.’
They are not alone. There are many Christian families who have spoken publicly about forgiving a terrible sin which has been committed against a loved one. But I am no less struck by how extraordinary it is. How can we forgive someone who has committed the worst thing we can think of? If someone murdered my fiance, or my mum or dad, could I forgive them?
Barry is quite pragmatic in his approach to forgiveness. It makes sense. You do it so that you’re not weighted down with hate and fear; hating his killer doesn’t bring back your dead son.
But the Mizens also had another reason for forgiving Fahri: what God has done for them. The forgiveness of God compels them to forgive the very worst kind of human sin. It doesn’t mean what he did doesn’t matter, and that he won’t have to live with the consequences. It doesn’t mean they won’t bear their painful scars of loss for the rest of their lives. But it does demonstrate the most incredible obedience to Christ, and opens up new possibilities for him to work in their lives. Read the interview with them in this issue to find out how.
Through practising forgiveness, we often receive closure and release. It’s a law God has given us not because he needs to be appeased, but because it’s good for our souls.
That’s the theory. But when we have the privilege of meeting people such as the Mizens who have made this extraordinary promise of God a reality in their own lives, I feel we owe it to them to do likewise. We are a forgiven people. What tragedy would it be not to extend that gift?