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Pastor Houses Child Killer

March 19, 2009

The media is starting to buzz over the story of Pastor David Pinckney’s housing x-con Ray Guay. Ray was convicted of murdering 12 year old child over 35 years ago. I just got off the phone with David, who is a friend and fellow pastor in the Acts 29 network.

Love Casts Out Fear?

David has been pastoring in Concord, New Hampshire for years, as his father did before him. He and River of Grace have a good reputation in the city and many supporters in the community, Christian and non-Christian. But understandably citizens are scared. One man bought a $4,000 security system. Another neighbor is filled with fear. Standing on the porch, David asked his neighbor and friend: “We are going to get through this, right?” To which is neighbor replied: “How can I abandon the man who gave me the car that sits in my driveway?” The love that courses through David’s family is the love of Christ, a love that he reminded me—“casts out fear.”

This is a complicated issue. Fear is understandable. Protection of families is commendable. But we have to face the fact that even with responsible protection, we can never insulate ourselves or our families from all danger. Unfortunately, criminals will come and go, thieves will break in and steal, and the world will continue to spin as though it is somehow off its axis. We need more than security systems. Beneath all our fear hides the longing for true and lasting security, security only found in the one who made us.

However, it is incumbent upon all fathers to consider the security of their families, their neighborhoods, their cities. Ray will live somewhere, that is sure. The question is where should he live? If not in a pastor’s home under constant supervision, then in an anonymous apartment under no supervision. Is it wisest to house him? Maybe, maybe not. What would you do and why?

The Gospel Changes Criminals

Before we too quickly look for stones to cast at Ray or David, we do well to consider our own crimes against neighbor and God. It was, after all, our God-belittling obsessions with self, success, power, money, sex, and acceptance that have sent our world wobbling. It is our criminal acts that led to the murder of Jesus. Before a holy God, we all stand convicted and are in desperate need of someone to pay our penalty, to change our hearts, and to reconcile us before the just Judge and Creator. The Gospel changes criminals, all of us. The love that David continues to point to is not cheap, naive love; it is robust, self-sacrificing, life-changing love. More than mere emotion, the love of God in Christ actually changes the hearts of men. Prison doesn’t change people; Jesus does.

Making Society Safer

What the media seems to be missing is the fact that the ministry of people like David, and the power of the gospel, actually make society safer not safe-less. The commitment to pastor x-cons into productive, society-contributing, redemptive citizens is precisely what we need. With a recidivism rate of over 66%, it is clear that cells and stripped freedoms aren’t actually making society safer.

What is remarkable that in the midst of so much fear, the Pinckney family has not become the target. Their constant love and service have earned them a good reputation in the eyes of their fellow citizens. Could that be said of you, of me? Do we know and love our neighbors well enough to have them stand with us, albeit fearfully, in the midst of trial and controversy? Oh for more men like David, that love with the love of Jesus, so much that society actually becomes safer.

A Pastor with a Good Reputation

In the midst of an decade of fear and pastoral scandal, it is refreshing to hear of a story that demonstrates a steady flow of love and faithfulness, of which Ray’s acceptance into the Pinckney household, and into the community of Christ, is a sign of hope. Apparently, Ray has a 17 year track record of transformation, to which his prison chaplain is glad to testify to. I trust David’s wisdom in this situation, but that is easier said from the confines of Austin, Texas than from the rural roads of Chicester. But more than that, I trust in the God who redeems x-cons, criminals of all kinds. Oh for more men, more pastors like David who carefully, lovingly, and faithfully lead other to a life-changing encounter with Christ, who contribute to the safety of society, and enrich thier cities and towns with a good reputation.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2009 9:39 am

    Incredible story Jonathan… I thoroughly appreciate the radical form of love that Pinckney and his family are showing the world. Let’s hope a few people in that town come to know Jesus because of them.

  2. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 11:45 am

    This is, as you said, refreshing. It is wonderful to see that the love of Christ is shared so freely and without reserve. We look at criminals with disgust, thinking that we are better, but we must remember that the Pharisees did too. Jesus was a radical because he lived and worked with tax collectors, prostitutes, and the generally disregarded members of society. Love changes people, not bars. It would be well if Christians remembered that and started loving like Christ did.

  3. March 19, 2009 12:58 pm

    I thank God for pastors like David. Wow! On one hand I want to say “Yes! this is what Jesus is calling us all to do! Live with radical obedience to demonstrate the unbelievable transformation of the gospel.” But on the other hand I realize in my own heart how much easier it is to thank God for David doing this and not me. I pray my love for Jesus that overflows to others increases beyond the selfish limits I constantly impose.


  1. Should Pastors House X-cons? « Church Planting Novice

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