Mississippi Man Kills Alabama Man and Confesses Three Years Later
Truly Encountering Jesus Changes a Person
I was surprised yesterday at a news story that popped up in my Facebook feed from a local news source that I follow. It was the story of a drug addicted man who killed a man three years ago. The man, James Eric Crisp, came into the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in Mississippi and confessed to having killed a man three years prior.
Crisp had been in court appointed rehab, and then became a preacher there. I suppose that the guilt had eaten away at Mr. Crisp for the last three years. While I’m certainly not a fan of the born-again Christian thing, I do believe once in a while people can truly come to know God that way, and it appears that perhaps it worked that way for him.
I too found Jesus in a non-traditional way, and my story is not something to strive to copy, it’s something that happened the way it did because Jesus had to work with what was there which wasn’t much. I don’t believe the born-again movement does much of anything substantial except make people into bigger assholes than they used to be.
It appears that James Crisp may thankfully be an anomaly and truly did meet God and was changed. This doesn’t make the born-again movement good, what it means is that God worked with what he had and this man found Jesus despite the born-again people, not because of them.
The comments on the article are mixed, as I would expect. Many people are in the caring about the victim only mindset, which I don’t see as a productive thought process. I certainly do not engage in the practice of victim blaming, what I do is come at it from the point of view of redemption rather than retribution.
Crisp’s victim was a man named Robert Taylor from Alabama. Taylor and his family and friends are of vital importance. I hope that they are relieved to know what happened to him even though it’s terrible. Hopefully that gives closure to them. What happened is wrong, and James Crisp appears to be facing up to the magnitude of his actions.
I come from the position of reconciliation not retribution. I am NOT implying that Robert Taylor’s family owes James Crisp anything including forgiveness, what I am saying is that the justice system should be rehabilitative not punitive. It seems as if Crisp has come to terms with himself enough to confess to taking the life of another, and that this confession has come about due to his own spiritual growth.
This is what an encounter with Jesus is supposed to do to us: change us. There are people commenting and calling James Crisp a coward for waiting three years. I get that thought process, but I’m glad this is coming to the light now instead of never. Growth is a process that takes time. While it’s true that he didn’t take responsibility for his actions back then, he is now.
I think that in prison, James Crisp might be freer than he’s ever been before, because Jesus changed him. He faced up to the things of the past, and has confessed what he did. I think in these cases the concept of “better late than never” applies.
Jesus doesn’t change us all at once, it’s a long process. Nobody would be able to handle it if Jesus worked it all at once. My own deep evils, my own trauma, is being redeemed a little at a time, and as things come up they are dealt with. This is a good and healthy process for me, for the guy down the street, and for James Crisp.
I saw other comments mocking Christianity because the man has been a preacher the past couple of years and I have to say as a Christian that it’s a completely legitimate reaction to have. We often do use Christianity to make excuses for ourselves, or to cover up what we did wrong.
In this case, he became a preacher after he committed the crime and unlike other preachers who hide behind that, he evidently was listening to his own preaching and is facing his past. I understand those mocking or mad at Christianity, I also understand that Jesus changes lives.
Many are seeing him as an evil person who is now defined by the horrible thing that he did, forgetting that if all of us were defined by the worst we’ve ever been, we might all run and hide from each other. One thing I have learned in the last two years is that God desires us to be at peace, both with him and with ourselves.
Facing up to the people we are and the people we have been gives hope because it means we don’t have to remain that person. God does not define me by the worst things I ever did, my identity is in him. God does not define James Crisp by the worst thing he ever did, and God doesn’t define any of us by the worst thing we have ever been.
Jesus takes those things, he changes us, and there is a death to who we were and a resurrection as a new person. It’s not because we deserve it, but because God desires it that way. I’m not the same person as I was a few years ago because I encountered Jesus and my life changed. It seems that it’s the same for James Crisp.
My hope and prayer is that facing the criminal justice system and what will likely end up as a prison sentence, that he will continue to walk with Jesus, and that even behind bars in an institutional building behind a tall fence, he will be free.