Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

December 15, 2019: Choose to be Courageous

From Fraser Macnaughton


The recent terrorist attack in London – during which convicted Islamist Usman Khan killed two people and injured several others before being shot by police – could have been even more horrific had it not been for the courageous actions of two former convicts one of whom was a murderer. 

James Ford was out on day release as part of his rehabilitation program, when he and another man confronted Khan, who was wearing a fake suicide vest. Together they managed to disarm him of a long machete type of knife and pinned him to the ground until police arrived and assessed that the situation was life threatening, clearly not knowing whether the suicide vest was real or not. 

A second former prisoner was later identified as the second person who intervened to take down the perpetrator of the London Bridge attack. Marc Conway, who was formerly in prison at HMP Grendon, now works as a policy officer at the Prison Reform Trust.

He was talking with prison education specialists when those at Fishmongers’ Hall began to flee as Usman Khan launched his attack. Conway reportedly headed straight towards the attacker and joined others who grappled with the assailant. Ford is also thought to have tried to save the life of the female victim. Police reported that he had been attending a Learning Together conference for prisoner rehabilitation at the Fishmongers’ Hall while on day release earlier that day. Khan had been at the same event.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, he killed a man and a woman and injured three other people before being tackled by members of the public and then shot dead by police on London Bridge. 

Video footage has emerged of police having to drag two members of the public who were restraining the subject on the ground, before realizing he was wearing what looked like a suicide vest. 

Social media picked up on the positive side of rehabilitation programs as well as the courage of the two former prisoners. One post said, “Respect to the men. They could have walked the other way but they didn’t. One definite step toward remorse.”

Explore…Luke 1:47–55

  • How does your faith community view prisoner rehabilitation?
  • In societies where retributive justice is still the norm, how do you promote the gospel values of restorative justice?
  • Are there other areas of community life in which your faith community is challenged to be courageous?

May we be empowered by the Spirit to demonstrate the courage of Jesus, the martyrs of the early church, and all those saints whose example of bravery in standing up for what they believed can inspire us in our place and time to do likewise. Amen. 

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