Albom: Stabbed 37 Times, Survivor Shows Forgiveness Is 'The Key To Moving Forward'
Letters between Highland Park and a state prison reflect an unusual connection that began with violence and is sustained by forgiveness.
The correspondence, described by Mitch Albom in a front-page Free Press centerpiece, was started by Kevin Ramsby, senior pastor at Revival Tabernacle Church in Highland Park. He writes to the man who admits breaking into the clergyman's home in 2009 and stabbing him 37 times.
Ramsby, 41, spent five months in the hospital and rehab. His attacker, a man named Wesley McLemore, was arrested in Alabama four months after the attack. His take from the robbery at Ramsby’s house? Three dollars and an old laptop.
McLemore eventually pleaded guilty to attempted murder last year. He was sentenced to 18 to 40 years in prison.
At the end of the trial, Ramsby . . . forgave McLemore and offered to help him in any way — now or in the future.
“I forgave him in my hospital bed,” Ramsby says. “I forgave him when he said he was innocent. When he confessed, I forgave him again. . .. I knew for me it was the key to moving forward.”
To this day, Ramsby writes McLemore in prison. He continues to encourage him. He calls forgiveness a “day-to-day process.”
When Albom mentions a scar on Ramsby’s cheek, the pastor tells the columnist: “A scar means that the wound is healing.”
The story is a vivid example of faith and grace, topics Albom addresses in a series of five best-selling books.
His latest Page One column embraces those themes powerfully. Albom's style invites sniping at times, but Kevin Ramsby's moving tale of Mandela-like forgiveness should mute the cynics, at least for a day.
We talk a lot about this being “the giving season.” But in many ways, the kindest offering might be what you give up. Letting go of anger, resentment, grudges or bitterness is a gift too big to fit inside a box, too vast to wrap in ribbon.
By letting go of any hate or fear, Ramsby has been able to resume his pastoring duties at Revival Tabernacle Church on Woodward, not very far from where he once lay dying. . .
The house in which the attack took place is now home to four young men whom Ramsby has helped move in there, young men who need a bit of direction, young men who, if steered the right way, can avoid the despair and poverty that may have led his attacker to crash the window that fateful night, looking for money.
“I felt hopelessness,” Ramsby says. “When I was laying there and there was no one to call for help, I felt it. And when someone doesn’t have the ability to change their circumstances, it’s the same hopelessness I faced on that floor.”