Behind every skyline there are neighborhoods, relationships, people, and stories …
By Dave Jackson
"He came to pay a debt He didn't owe because I owed a debt I couldn't pay."
It's a word few people ever expect to apply to them. But for fourteen-year-old Raymond Slewinski, it's suddenly a reality.
Provoked by a gang leader to randomly shoot of an innocent athlete, Ray now faces a forty-year sentence in Chicago's infamous prison system. To Ray, it might as well be a life sentence.
In prison, Ray finds his gangbanger ties difficult to escape and even necessary for survival. But just when he has resigned himself to this new existence, he receives an unexpected gift—forgiveness. Even as he learns that the source of this forgiveness is God, Ray still struggles to accept it. And then the ultimate test comes: When faced with the man who ruined his life, can Ray extend the same forgiveness that has been handed to him?
"A stunning novel of murder, forgiveness, and redemption on the street of Chicago."
While this story is fiction, its opening chapters are based on a gang shooting on the Evanston/Chicago border in the summer of 1996. I was inspired to use this tragic event to start my novel when I learned the mother of the victim had visited the shooter in prison and extended her forgiveness in the name of Christ. Committing murder changed Mario Ramos's life forever, but so did this unfathomable forgiveness.
Mario remains in prison where I have visited him and written to him. His new faith in Christ is strong. But someday he will get out ... and what he makes of his life then will be the rest of his story.
My novel only begins like Mario's story, but the other things that happen to my character, Ray, in prison and on the streets of Chicago are also true to life. There are guys like him and the other characters in Forty to Life on every corner of any big city. Some will make it, some won't, at least not without the help of people like Gordon McLean, the real “Mr. Gee,” who ministers to young men in prison and out, and has done so faithfully for fifty years.
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© 2013, Dave & Neta Jackson