The family of Robert Godwin Sr. was recently interviewed on CNN, and spoke of forgiveness and of God’s love.
The 74-year-old—who was a father of nine and grandfather of 14—was murdered over the Easter weekend by a man named Steve Stephens who posted the video to Facebook. The completely random and senseless killing has sparked a nationwide manhunt, and ended with Steve Stephens allegedly killing himself after a police chase in Pennsylvania.
But during the interview with Anderson Cooper, Mr. Godwin’s family stated that their father raised them to know the love of God, and expressed sympathy and even forgiveness for the killer.
Tonya Godwin Baines explained to Mr. Cooper what their dad taught them about faith:
“The thing I would take away most from my father is he taught us about God, how to fear God, how to love God and how to forgive. Each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer, we want to wrap our arms around him.”
“You do?” Mr. Cooper interjected, appearing to be a bit taken aback by the sentiment. Tonya’s sister continued:
“We absolutely do. I honestly can say right now I hold no animosity towards this man because I know that he’s a sick individual… I promise you I could not do that (forgive) if I didn’t know God, if I didn’t know him as my God and my Savior. I could not forgive that man. And I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually feel sadness in my heart for this man.”
Ms. Baines then turned away from their own grief and talked about the other family involved, the killer’s family, and lamented the loss they will be going through.
“We lost our dad but this mother lost her son, his children lost their dad–”
Again, Mr. Cooper was stunned. “That’s incredible that you’re thinking about them, even in your time of grief,” he said.
Ms. Baines once again provided an opportunity to discuss what she and her siblings were taught:
“It’s just what our parents taught us. It wasn’t that they just taught it, they didn’t just talk it, they lived it. People would do things to us and we would say ‘Dad, are you really going to forgive them, really?’ and he would say ‘yes, we have to.’ My dad would be really proud of us, and he would want this from us. He would say, Tonya, forgive them, because they know not what they do.”
Mr. Cooper, clearly moved, closed out the segment with a nice sentiment, saying ‘I wish I was a Godwin right now. Because you all represent your dad well.”
I think that it may be clear that this interview leaves Mr. Cooper and anyone watching or reading these statements in awe at their faith and view as they deal with this terrible tragedy. But, it also shows how great and strong their faith is to forgive a man who murdered their father, and even show humility and sadness for him.
You can watch the interview below:
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