Miracle of Forgivness
following is the story of the daughter of
one of Charles' victims, who forgave him
while on a visit in prison.
It was like any other day
in prison, 4:00 p.m. mail call, usually
meaning news from family and friends. After
reading through the letters, there is always
time to reflect on what was just read about
the world outside.
One letter was from a woman
named Suzan. I pictured her with dark hair,
and a dark complexion, for some reason.
I remembered that she had written a few
times over the past year. Some way she was
involved in prison ministry. She definitely
had a great love for prisoners, possibly
traveling from prison to prison visiting
them. So it was no surprise when she said
she wanted to visit me in a couple of weeks.
I thought, "The Lord has certainly
given her a big heart."
Planning for the Visit
I got busy making plans
for her to visit. I quickly wrote, telling
her the visiting hours. I let her know to
contact my wife when she arrived. I didn't
tell her, but I seldom visit a woman without
my wife present. Suzan was married and seven
months pregnant, so I felt if she did visit
without Kristin, we would be viewed as above
reproach. That is exactly what happened,
we visited alone.
The Visit Finally Came
I heard my name called,
and off I went for a Saturday visit. I knew
we would be sharing all about me, since
I live a "fish bowl" existence.
After meeting her and finding a seat in
the visiting room, I quickly shifted the
subject to her. After all, she had come
several hundred miles, I was curious. How
did she travel to see me? Did she call my
wife? Which ministry is she involved with?
Why was she visiting me? I had lots of questions.
She told me that she came
by plane to Los Angeles, then drove from
there. She didn't contact my wife, but wanted
to see her afterwards. We talked about her
church life, her involvement in prison ministry,
and her children. I could see she was very
pregnant, and I wondered even more why was
this woman visiting me all the way from
New Mexico? I knew it was very expensive
for her to come just for a visit. I was
still puzzled, so I wanted to find out everything
I could about her.
Our Testimony Comes Alive
We talked for about thirty
minutes before the conversation turned toward
me. She wanted to hear my testimony and
to know how I got saved. I really didn't
know where to start, since she was already
saved, and it was very hard at times to
work through my life before Christ.
I felt very comfortable
with Suzan, and started off slowly. She
made it quite clear that I didn't have to
talk about my crime if I didn't want to.
So I gave her my standard three minute testimony.
I just felt it would be better to give a
quick testimony of the miracle of salvation,
and if she wanted to hear more, she could
ask. As always, the anointing fell and a
time of rejoicing was felt in our hearts
concerning what God has done in my life.
My testimony didn't end
there, but it seemed like she was being
brought into it. As we shared back and forth,
I realized we were both in Los Angeles in
the late '60s, at the time of my crime.
So I inquired about her life at that time.
Then the shock came. Suzan
said, "I didn't know, when I came here,
if I was going to tell you this or not,
but I have something to tell you."
I thought, "Oh Lord,
what is this about."
She said, "But first
of all, I want you to know that I had no
intention of deceiving you by not telling
you this before I came to visit."
I said, "Oh, okay,
what is it?"
"Well", she said,
"Rosemary LaBianca was my mother."
I said, "You're kidding."
"No, I'm not."
"Wait a minute, how
do I know you're not just some sort of nut?"
"Hold it now, you're
telling me that Rosemary LaBianca was your
"Yes." She started
into a long explanation. She related her
being born out of wedlock and about her
mother's first marriage and eventual divorce,
then her marriage to Leno LaBianca. Without
saying a word, thoughts raced through my
mind, "I had killed her mother and
step-father." Our eyes were filled
with tears, as mine are now writing this,
and the anointing of God rested upon us.
I could not believe what
was happening. After she told me who she
was, it took about ten minutes before I
heard another word she said.
I said, "Wait a minute,
let me get this straight." I spent
the next half-hour questioning her and taking
her through the third degree. I asked her
questions that only she could answer being
who she said she was. Finally, I was convinced
that she was not a nut, pulling some scam
Resting In The Lord
The rest of the visit was
filled with the love of the Lord. The feeling
was that we were a close brother and sister
in Christ. There' was a deep concern in
our heart for each other. We shared deeply
concerning our life before Christ, even
the crimes. There was no resentment, only
the flow of forgiveness. It was a miracle!
I wanted to shout, but the visiting room
was crowded, and I was still amazed and
How could this be? It would
be easy to be flippant and say, "That's
what God's grace is all about, you shouldn't
be shocked about it, that's what Christ
came to do!" In reply, "Yes, Christ
personally forgave us of our sin, but it
becomes very personal and real when experienced
through the life of another for such sin."
This, I had never experienced
with such clarity. On looking back, it is
like the personal experience of being baptized,
or taking communion. Like these physical
expressions of our life in Christ, I had
experienced the physical act of forgiveness.
The Spirit of forgiveness filled the air.
Mere words seemed so out of place. The Lord
did it all, by His Spirit, through our hearts.
A Miracle Realized
At the end of the visit,
we prayed, realizing the miracle at hand.
She left to meet my wife and children. They
shared in deep fellowship in my wife's home.
I could hardly wait to speak with my wife.
Over the next few months,
we enjoyed a rich time of letter writing.
There were so many things to share and to
understand. Our lives were drawn together
and many questions in our minds were dissolved.
She would return to see
me at Easter with her new baby. Suzan, my
wife, and I attended Easter services together
inside prison. The resurrection of Jesus
Christ took on new meaning. We began planning
a visit for the summer.
A few years have gone by
since our initial visit. This miracle was
hard to keep to ourselves, but there was
a need for our relationship to grow, and
for God's perfect timing. His power, love,
and forgiveness is so amazing.
I pray that God uses us
to reveal His love for sinners. That hearts
would be opened to His Spirit, for power
to forgive, and that God's love would flow
through many souls and expose the covered-up
resentment. Thank you Lord, for the healing
power of Calvary. Surely, "...where
sin abounded, grace did much more abound"
More Of Suzan's Testimony
In 1980, she lived in Cambria,
only a few miles from California Men's Colony
where Charles was in prison at that time.
She wondered if any of her parent's murderers
were there. But it was after she was born-again
that the Lord gave her a burden for the
killers. She was born-again while attending
Calvary Chapel in Grass Valley, California.
Later, she became involved in prison ministry
and decided to write to the man who killed
Suzan had many thoughts
about writing him. The Lord told her that
they would meet. She made every effort to
get acquainted through letters. She wanted
to know who he was as a Christian, without
revealing her identity. She didn't want
to hurt him or make him defensive, so she
spent lots of time in prayer before their
The enemy was trying to
stop their meeting, planting negative thoughts,
"...the plane will crash, how are you
going to finance the trip; no one will care
for your children while you're gone; he's
probably not a Christian; you'll just be
disappointed." But she relied on God's
Word, "...greater is He that is in
you than he that is in the world."
She became determined to be obedient to
In prayer and love, she
came to the prison. She was happy to be
there, even waiting in line for two hours.
She wondered what they would talk about.
She thought, "What does he think about
me coming from so far away?"
Finally, just like God
said, they met. They talked a while and
you know the rest. She felt the most pure
love for her brother in the Lord. As they
held hands praying, she knew this was not
the same person who killed her parents.
"Therefore, if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creation, old things are passed
away, behold all things are become new."
Suzan believes forgiveness
is the foundation of our Christian lives.
Christ died for our sins and we are forgiven
by Him. Unforgivingness is the foundation
of bitterness, hatred, anger, wrath, rebellion,
and even sickness of the body. It may start
with something very insignificant and fester
until full grown.
To quote Suzan, "Unforgivingness
keeps us from our Heavenly Father. It will
keep us from receiving God's best. Everyone
wants a peaceful life, but their unforgivingness
prevents them from knowing the peace that
God desires. I exhort you to pray for conviction
of unforgivingness in your heart. If possible,
go to that person and forgive them. If you
seed someone's forgiveness, then seek it.
"In my life there
is victory because of Christ. His love and
forgiveness is what saved me from death.
I was slowly dying from life's circumstances
and my inability to accept and forgive those
in my life causing hurt, trauma, and pain.
"The secular world
does not understand the relationship of
God, His Son, and the forgiveness that flows
from Christ to believer, and from believer
to others. It is a spiritual truth. I pray
that what has happened in my heart and in
Charles' will be an example of what God's
love and grace can do for us all."