It’s incredibly difficult for convicted paedophiles to move back into society after they’ve served their prison term. Dutch swimming teacher Benno L., jailed in 2010 for abusing girls in his care, was released on parole in 2014. Rejected by his family and banned from areas where his victims live, probation services had to find a place where the sex offender could rebuild his life. But in each locality people quickly found out about his presence, resulting in fierce protests in front of his house, death threats, and finally chasing the man out of town.
Not many cared. But Rikko Voorberg, a young pastor from Amsterdam, did. Convinced that Jesus gives everyone a second chance, he started a Facebook page where he publicly invited Benno L. to become his neighbour. In just hours Voorberg’s initiative made the headlines and received thousands of reactions, both positive and negative, including serious threats. But, as a result, pastor Voorberg was able to meet for coffee with Benno L. “In ten minutes he told me so much about his life that I could only feel compassion, both for him and for his victims.”
Voorberg then invited Benno L. to visit his small church plant in Amsterdam. There he was warmly received by everyone. After his full released from prison, he moved to Germany. But, before he left, he came to the church to thank the Christians who accepted him so graciously. “As you all know, I did something that was completely unacceptable, which I really regret,” he said. “I was put into prison for good reasons. I lost everything, including my own family. I was utterly alone, when Rikko came to see me. You fully accepted me as a human being, and not as Benno L. the criminal. Thank you for that.”
Source: Joel News International
Bible Study: James 2:8-13
PRAISE God that the church had the grace to warmly accept a rejected man. Pray that he and many other society rejects will know the forgiving love of Christ.