What would you do if you came face to face with the man who had falsely accused you of a crime and had you imprisoned? Would forgiveness be the first thing on your mind, or would you want revenge as soon as you were released from prison? These were the questions on Jameel McGee’s mind as he served a four-year sentence for dealing drugs, a crime which he did not commit.
In 2005 in a small town in Michigan, police officer Andrew Collins set out one morning determined to make a drug arrest, whether it was legitimate and true or not. He arrested Jameel McGee and falsified his report, resulting in a four-year sentence for Jameel. Jameel readily admits that during his incarceration, his only desire was to seek out Andrew and hurt him as soon as he was released from prison.
The crooked cop Andrew was actually guilty of other transgressions in addition to his treatment of Jameel, such as planting drugs, theft, and falsifying other records. He was caught and served time in prison; this time, a guilty man rightfully imprisoned.
Eventually, both men were released and both went back home to their small Michigan town. And as sometimes happens in small towns, they met each other again.
Both men had found work through a faith-based employment agency called Mosaic and wound up working side by side at a café. Forced together, Jameel and Andrew had no choice but to figure out a way to come to terms with what had happened between them.
Andrew admits that he could do little else but simply apologize. Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t make up for four years of wrongful imprisonment, but Andrew knew that he could offer no explanation or excuse for his previous behavior.
And Jameel says that’s all he really needed. Even though his original goal had been to seek vengeance on Andrew, when the other man humbled himself, genuinely admitted his error, and apologized, Jameel was able to forgive him.
Jameel is a Christian, and he knows that mercy, forgiveness, and love are central to his faith. He wants his life of kindness to be an example to others of this deep, spiritual love. Instead of fighting with his former accuser, Jameel now fights for a kinder world. Jameel forgave Andrew not just for his own sake or even for Andrew’s sake. Jameel practiced forgiveness for the sake of everyone so that the world can see the power of love instead of hate.
Andrew, with tears in his eyes, readily admits that he doesn’t deserve the kindness that Jameel shows him. And now the two men are not only peaceful coworkers but friends. They work together, laugh together, and help each other. They’ve even teamed up as public speakers, sharing their story about forgiveness and redemption.
While it may be tempting to seek revenge or even true justice for a wrongdoing, Jameel and Andrew’s story encourages us all to take the high road: the God road. Not only is Jameel a happier man for it instead of living a life of bitterness, but the story of these two men is encouraging others everywhere to treat everyone with true love.
Café Mosaic’s website
Watch the video of Jameel and Andrew’s story:
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