This will break your heart.
My distressed response to the shocking news about the repeated torture and murder of the vulnerable 26 year old Michael Gilbert turned to utter amazement and respect when I read what his abusers said about him.
He’d met one of his captors at the age of 15 in a children’s home, and after moving in with that ‘friend’, he was kept as a domestic slave by the family and tortured for his benefit payments. This led to him being made to stand in boiling water, dropped on his head, forced to drink his own urine and handcuffed to his bed at night to prevent his escape. His headless, dismembered body was found in a Bedfordshire lake in May 2009.
The thing that got me between the eyes, though, was what one of his abusers, Richard Watt (who pleaded guilty) said of their victim, Michael:
One day I said to him ‘why are you putting up with it?’ and he said to me ‘I love you lot, you are my family’
That’s exactly the kind of person who Jesus said would inherit the Kingdom.
Although coming from a vulnerable person, that’s exactly the kind of searingly pure love that mirrors, and breaks God’s heart.
That response to our depravity is exactly the kind of heart that Jesus had.
That’s exactly what compels me to live for the lost, those without a chance, those who, like Michael, are in need and know it.
That’s exactly who the Jesus Army fight for.
And I salute you, Michael Gilbert.