The murder of Robert Godwin, Sr., on Easter Sunday shocked the nation. The 74-year-old Ohio resident was walking home from a holiday meal with his family when he was shot and killed by a complete stranger.
The murderer recorded the killing on his phone and later uploaded it to Facebook where it was watched thousands of times.
After a two-day manhunt, the man who pulled the trigger took his own life as police moved in to arrest him.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine the pain and anguish that Mr. Godwin’s family has endured in the days since Easter. Everyone grieves differently, of course, but processing a death that was so public and so violent is something that’s difficult to fathom.
Yet, their very public reaction to it all has been stunning.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed three of Robert Godwin’s children on Tuesday, before the murderer had taken his own life. Towards the end of the interview, he asked the siblings if they had a message for the killer.
Daughter Debbie Godwin answered: “I believe that God would give me the grace to even embrace this man. And hug him … I just would want him to know that even in his worst state, he’s loved, you know, by God, that God loves him, even in the bad stuff that he did to my dad.”
Godwin’s children said their father taught them how to forgive.
“The thing that I would take away the most from my father is he taught us about God,” Tonya Godwin Baines said. “How to fear God. How to love God. And how to forgive. Each one of us forgives the killer. The murderer.”
She continued: “It’s just what our parents taught. It’s not just that they taught us, they did it. They lived it.”
It brings to mind C.S. Lewis’s famous quote, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
Watch that segment of the interview, below: