Sunday, April 24, 2005

264 A Mother's Peace

We don’t usually stay for Sunday School after worship. However, today our pastor encouraged the congregation at the 8:30 service to stay and hear Rachel Muha talk about God’s peace, and the murder of her 18 year old son, during the Sunday School hour. We are doing a series on the gifts of the Spirit, and today’s topic was Peace, using the passage, Phillipians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We were so blessed by Mrs. Muha’s loving, quiet ways. A tiny woman with a lovely smile who appears to be in her mid-40s, she talked about her two sons, Chris and Brian, their growing up years in a Columbus suburb, their school and activities, and their love for family, church and community. Both went to Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH and that’s where Brian and his roommate were kidnapped and then murdered in Pennsylvania in May 1999. She talked about prayer and the peace God gave her as each horrible detail began to unfold. As the students packed the college chapel to pray for the missing students, Mrs. Muha addressed them and said, “Whoever is responsible for what has happened to Brian and Aaron, and whatever you have done to them, I forgive you.”

She talked about why she had to forgive the three young men, Terrell, Nathan and Brandon, who murdered Brian Muha and Aaron Land. Hers is not a warm, fuzzy, whimpy forgiveness--she says her heart has been shattered and will always be in a million pieces. But she won’t let the devil make her hate. She concluded with the story of the Prodigal Son, and says she prays daily for those young men and hopes that prison will be their path to heaven. She calls them her brothers. They have not yet repented six years later, so she urged us to pray for them also.

There are numerous accounts of this crime and the trial on the internet, but I thought this one, less than a year after Brian’s death, accurately reflected what she told our group.

After the trial, Tony Norman wrote:

“At the heart of the courtroom's luminous drama was Rachel Muha, the mother of Brian. Her gracious speech will reverberate for years in that sad and divided community.

"If you hadn't done this, I would have my Brian and you would have your freedom," she said calmly. "But losing your freedom is not as bad as losing your soul." She then asked Herring to redeem the rest of his years on Earth before blessing him and assuring him she'd pray for him.

Herring had no idea a year ago that he'd ever be confronted by such a woman. Had he known such love in his life, he would've wrestled his partner to the ground. Taking a bullet would've been better than living under the weight of a heartbroken mother's prayers.

Rachel Muha's redemption song has stunned and inspired many people. What the petite woman did in the presence of the tall man who helped kill her son required a bravery beyond what it takes to squeeze the trigger of a gun. What good is hatred? Rachel Muha understands that, sometimes, the language of redemption is the only thing in the whole world that makes any sense.”

A loophole in Ohio's law has caused our Supreme Court to throw out the murder convictions in this brutal case, according to this article and this one, and that loophole has now been closed, but too late for the victim's families.

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