In 2009 James Bain was freed from prison after serving thirty-five years for a crime he didn’t commit.
When convicted of sexually molesting a young boy, Bain was nineteen. When DNA evidence proved he was innocent, he was fifty-four.
James Bain spent more time behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit than any other American on record.
When DNA testing became available in 2001, authorities repeatedly refused Bain's requests to test the evidence from his case. He sat in prison eight more years before they tested it and found him innocent.
Can you imagine spending thirty-five years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit, especially such a despicable crime?
It makes me think of Joseph's story in the Bible (Genesis 37-50). Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and false testimony landed him in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. Then Pharaoh’s cup-bearer, who offered to help Joseph, forgot about him and let him languish a few more years in prison.
Like Bain, Joseph had every reason to be bitter, angry and full of self-pity. Everyone and everything seemed to be against him.
However, when Joseph was reunited with his family after 17 years of unjust separation, he not only treated his guilty brothers kindly, he assured them that God had used the injustice in his life for good purposes!
Joseph had the unique ‘faith-ability’ to judge his circumstances by God’s character instead of judging God’s character by his circumstances.
He was able to accept injustice and forgive those responsible because He trusted God's goodness.
Incredibly, James Bain had the same ‘faith-ability.’ He spent twice as much time in his unjust circumstances as Joseph, but when released he said “[It] was the right time for God to release me from this. I just had to be very patient... I cannot feel angry. I put all that in God's hands."(1)
Bain's words remind me of Joseph's in Genesis 50: 19,20: "Am I in the place of God? You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good..."
I don’t know about you, but Bain’s attitude both shames me and inspires me. I’m ashamed that I have so little ‘faith-ability’ with my lesser difficulties, but I’m blessed by those like Joseph and Bain who show me the way.
(1)-Friday, December 18, 2009, BBC News Online
© 2011 Gail Purath