Can you imagine sitting down and talking one-on-one with the person who killed your loved one? For Montgomery's Ken Kelly a trip to Louisiana meant just that, a meeting with the woman who killed his wife, Carolyn.
It's a face-to-face meeting they both wanted; but each, wishes never had to happen. Kelly, a man who lost his wife to a drunk driver, and Mary Butler, a former Montgomery police officer, who admitted she was driving drunk. It's been three years since the accident happened, and now the power of faith is revealing itself in an unexpected relationship.
This is the last leg of a three year journey for Ken Kelly. Ken Kelly says he's found out how quickly life can change. "We've realized life is just a vapor, as it says in the Bible, it's here for a while and vanishes away."
Kelly's coming the final distance to what he hopes is a place of healing, for himself and the woman who killed his wife. "We have the promise from God of eternal life if we remain faithful. We don't have the promise that we'll be here the next day," adds Kelly.
Kelly received a tearful courtroom apology from Mary Butler, who was sentenced for killing Kelly's wife, Carolyn, while driving drunk. Mr. Kelly forgave her, but he still longed to talk with Butler again.
In order to have a face-to-face meeting with Mary Butler, Ken Kelly would have to travel to Basile, Louisiana. Due to prison overcrowding in Alabama, that is where Mary Butler is serving her time. For Ken Kelly it was worth a 7-hour drive and the possibility of closure.
Inside, Mary Butler waited. She wanted this meeting too, but now nervously prayed for strength. Butler prayed "that God would give me the words, that his message would get out." Ken Kelly told Butler, "I just wanted to talk with you and let you know how we feel. It was the most difficult time in my life..that's how it was."
Mary Butler told Ken Kelly she was "not happy about the situation that brought God in my life, but I'm grateful for it, and I thank you. You were the encouragement. You were the reason that I seeked out God to begin with."
Ken Kelly responded, "I feel very good about what you're doing. It's the right result from the bad thing that happened."
Butler is taking a Bible correspondence class while in prison, through Mr. Kelly's minister, John McPherson. Mary Butler says some days are still difficult. "Somedays I believe God loves me..then there are days I doubt it."
But Ken Kelly encourages Mary Butler telling her, "There should be no doubt in your mind we forgive you ...God's promises are true."
Mr. Kelly has remarried since losing his wife Carolyn. He continues to urge people to understand the dangers of drinking and driving.
Mary Butler is beginning the third year of a five year sentence. She looks forward to the day she can be with her son again, who she had only six weeks before going to prison. She also hopes to work with DARE or MADD when she gets out of prison to prevent people from driving drunk.
Butler plead guilty to manslaughter and a judge sentenced her to 15 years. But she'll serve only five years because she struck a deal with prosecutors not to put Carolyn Kelly's family through the ordeal of a trial.
An unlikely 30-minute meeting behind the prison walls offered the possibility of inner-strength and freedom, through faith and forgiveness. Both the forgiver and the forgiven now continue their journeys in life as witnesses to the power of faith.