* Disclaimer * The following post is from a personal experience of mine. It's about a specific person and while I normally don't "out" people as a pastor, I am this time. I want you as a reader to know that I have permission to share the following information from Pete himself. It is of utmost importance to me to keep the confidentiality of my friends / family /and cohorts. Sorry about the disclaimer...I just want you to know that you don't have to worry about me "sharing your stuff". * Disclaimer over. *

I met Pete somewhere around 2 years ago. Maybe longer, it's fuzzy.

We were fresh into the new church we started and eager to help anyone we could. This isn't a bad thing at can be dangerous though. Several of us somehow got connected with the Mt. Airy Men's Shelter and tried to serve them as best we could. The shelter was essentially just a drug/alcohol rapid rehab center for guys who can't manage life on their own. Mt. Airy houses anywhere from 55-65 guys at any given time and they take them through stages of progress to get them out on their own.

That last paragraph makes Mt. Airy Men's Shelter sound better than it really is. It's a bit of a dump honestly. We've continued to maintain a connection with the guys who come in and out of there. Each week anywhere from 8-15 guys show up at Vineyard Westside and we love that they're a part of our body. To see the homeless sitting next to the wealthy and they embrace one's a beautiful sight. It breaks down the Us and Them mentality.

Pete came from the men's shelter. His name was Arthur, but he always went by Pete. He had been at the shelter for a couple months and was now moving on to live in an apartment by himself. He wasn't ready for this kind of responsibility, but the system doesn't worry about what people are ready for. He went through the it was time to kick him out. That's just how it works.

I connected with Pete more deeply through a Saturday morning men's group that met at Panera. This was just a group of guys, totally messed up, who were looking for the things God was trying to teach them through their everyday lives. Pete wanted to go to the Panera group, but he was without wheels. Me and a couple other guys took turns giving Pete a ride to the group as well as other places. Sometimes Pete would come home with me to look through books I had or to get something to eat. I got to know more of his story and he got to know more of mine.

My wife Allison already knew Pete because he took a class where she was Pete's table leader. Pete was an amazing singer. He could belt out Negro Spirituals like no other I've heard. We always encouraged him to use his secret talent and most of the time he would start sweating profusely and escape before we forced him to sing. Pete was somewhat like a giant teddy bear. He seemed so child-like and innocent in so many instances.

I looked up Pete's police record online because I'm OCD, nosey, and that's just the kind of thing I do. I knew that he had been in trouble with the law on and off for a while. I found out that he had been arrested some 30 times in the last 5 years for offenses such as Drunk and Disorderly Conduct, Physical Abuse, and Public Nuisance. It seemed old Pete couldn't keep himself out of the slammer for more than 30 days at a time. He explained to me once that jail was a safe place for him. He couldn't get drunk and he spent most of his time reading the Bible and devotionals. He was a better human being when he was incarcerated. Some kind of a "gauge out your eye if it causes you to sin" mentality was at play.

Our relationship progressed and it seemed that Pete felt comfortable to share more and more of his chaotic life with me. He told me about the scars on his face and how they were from his mother and sisters. I remember vividly how he described them. He sheepishly admitted to me that his sisters all held him down while his mother hit him repeatedly with a baseball bat saying, "I din't want no boy! I din't want no boy!".

Pete called me one day and he asked me if Allison and I could come over to his apartment so he could talk to us. We said sure and we headed over there after church one Sunday. We went inside Pete's tiny efficiency apartment and had a seat on his couch. He thanked us for always helping him out and told us that he'd been reading the bible and he felt like he needed to tell us something. He said, "I'm going to hell. I'm going to hell and I'm scared." We asked him why he thought he was going to hell and he told us that he had been reading the book of James in the bible. It said that he should confess his sins to his brothers in Christ.

He began sweating like he always did. Pete sweat like no human I've ever seen when he had to talk to people. It would just start pouring from his bald head. As the sweat beaded down his face he looked at us and told us the story of how he had killed someone. He explained that he had been drinking with some guy all day several years back when they got into some kind of argument. Pete told us that he had stabbed this man to death and that he just ran away. He'd been running for some time now.

I remember when he told me I began praying immediately in my head. I asked Jesus to keep Allison and I safe as we prepared to respond to this confession. I opened up my mouth and I wasn't sure what was going to come out. If I said the wrong thing, Pete was capable of panicking. Maybe he immediately regretted telling us...what then? What if we freaked out? What could Pete do to us? As the words formed in my mouth I just grabbed Pete by the shoulder with a reassuring touch and said, "I think we should pray."

We prayed for a good long while and I can tell you that when you're in that situation your prayers are very real. We stayed with him for maybe an hour, we hugged him and thanked him for telling us the things he told us. When we drove away...we didn't know what to do. We went to some friends' house and let them know what Pete had told us. I didn't feel comfortable being the only two people who knew about this. So we told our trusted allies and we went home.

Over the few weeks I gently coached Pete that he should turn himself in and he agreed. During this time, however, Pete started drinking again. He began getting in trouble with people and he was calling our house late at night with strange requests and threats. He would leave drunken messages on our answering machine cussing us out and then telling us he loved us and then telling us he was going to kill himself. Things were getting out of hand and I was sitting with Pete's confession in the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to turn Pete in...I wanted Pete to turn Pete in. While God forgives us even the most evil transgressions we still have to be accountable to the law. I sat on it for a few more weeks. Things got even worse.

I found out that Pete had been getting rides to different places from young women. He also spent Christmas with some friends of ours who have 4 kids. They had no idea what Pete had done. The final straw came for me when I found out that Pete was going to stay at the friend with 4 kids' house when he got kicked out of his apartment.

I called my father-in-law. He's a judge. I asked him what I should do and he gave me the steps to turn Pete in to the authorities. Allison and I had to go and tell our story to the Norwood Police and they had to investigate it further. Everything checked out and they solved an open case. Pete had indeed killed a man 8 years ago. They arrested him and He's now in prison.

You can read a small bit of news story here ----> 1998 Norwood Murder

I don't know how to end this post. I still feel so icky about what happened. I haven't been in contact with Pete since he was arrested. I was told it wasn't a good idea and that's given me a great excuse not to face him again. I feel not right about that part.

I know I had to do what I felt was right at the time. I've replayed it over in my head a thousand times and I'm not sure what I would do differently if it happened again.

That's all I got...I'm officially wiped out.

6 waggish utterances thus far...:

Helen Ann said...

That is some heavy stuff. If it's any help, I believe you did the right thing. I know that it doesn't ease the ick in your stomach. Love can be so difficult. Even though it isn't flesh and blood that we war against, it is still that flesh and blood that we have to face, deal with, make decisions regarding...It would be so much easier if the enemy would just show himself instead of using people.

DanThoms said...

Thats an amazing story. It sounds like you did everything correctly though buts still, wow.

carrie doan said...

Good ole Pete...I remember my last time hugging him just 2 days before I saw him on the news. You guys did an awesome job handling the situation.

I delivered your message to the behind of my hubby. He was delighted.

We're pumped about the apartment! We'll keep our eyes out for any random cash/donations - we'll keep praying for the moolah to come in.

We love you guys too - only 1 month til our reunion :)

tom said...

no one said the gospel was gonna be easy. I hear your story and I'm moved. Moved by a man who couldn't say no to sin. I connect with that, though I never murdered. All I can say is that man needs Jesus, and we gotta keep pleading with the Father through Jesus, while there's still 'daylight' for him to rescue people from the 'fire'. Isaiah 55:10-11. Jesus is strong enough for things we don't see as being possible.
love in him,
tom from england.

Covenant Vision said...

p.s. i have a blog account so you can resond to me there if you want. it's

Ashley in Austin said...

Very moving story. I know you did the right thing for everyone involved. It took a lot of strength to handle this situation the way you did. I hope the "icky" feeling has left and you are left with a feeling having done the right thing.