At my in-laws’ church last Sunday a parolee shared his testimony which I’m retelling here to the best of my recollection.
A year to the day before Roe v. Wade, Howe was born into the world with an IUD implanted in his head. He had all the markings of a failure. Mom was told he’d be deformed and somewhat retarded his entire life as a result of the birth control devices wedged over his eye. Joking about his IQ, he lets the rest of him speak for itself. “He looked normal,” I was told.
Howe grew up indifferent to the world. It didn’t matter to him if he pummeled a kid or helped an elderly lady across the street. I think we call this Reactive Detachment Disorder, but it could be something else.
With a relative he moved to my state where he beat up two Japanese boys. Our state was cracking down on violence, so the judge sentenced him to 75 years in prison. He says that wasn’t nearly the worst thing he had done.
Not a very big man, he looked like an easy target in jail. One time he had to room with a notoriously mean inmate who attacked him with a four inch shank. In order to help him with his aggression and apathy as a child, an adult in his life enrolled him in a martial arts class. “I don’t know what they were thinking,” he said, “they only armed me.” The guards came to extract Howe from his cell in order to protect him from the mean guy. Instead the guard found that the blood on Howe belonged to the meanie. They figured Howe had to be one rough son-of-a-gun to wreak damage against the bully of the facility. They isolated him in the hole for a spell.
In the hole Howe found a Bible and then he found Jesus. He didn’t experience a profound transformation at first, but recognized that something in him had changed. Reading one day he came across the verse that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” (Psalm 139:14). “I was not a mistake!” he realized.
Now he has a mission to tell released prisoners that they are not mistakes either. Indeed, can’t we all bear to hear his simple, amazing testimony? Who doesn’t want to be reminded: You too are wonderful.