Jeff Lucas: 'We must pray for Rolf Harris'
This call to prayer is likely to create some reaction, but I feel compelled to write it. My request is simple - pray for Rolf Harris. Before picking up that stone or firing off an angry response, let me be clear: what he has done is utterly evil and reprehensible. Not only is he a child abuser, but he has allowed his victims to suffer more by not admitting his guilt and forcing them to relive their terror in court. Justice must and should be done. I offer not a single word of defence for these terrible crimes. We must pray for his victims and those who perhaps have still not been heard. And our prayers are with countless others who are still in a situation of ongoing abuse, who long for liberation and justice, and who have been wounded further by the news of yet another 'safe' person who has turned out to be a predator. But I return to one core question: does God love Harris? Did Jesus die for him? The answer is yes. And so, as he experiences utter hostility and loneliness and fear, we should pray for him, that somehow, in some way, he might discover Christ in the midst of this dark day. Not all will be able to do this, to pray for him - some, especially those who have suffered the trauma of abuse themselves, will not be able to find the words. But for most of us, aware that we are greatly loved, whatever our own sins, prayer is a right response.
When I placed this call to prayer on Facebook, I was surprised by the response. Within 24 hours, it hit over 25,000 Facebook pages. More than 1,000 people 'liked' the call. Some - a few - posted vitriolic messages. Some privately sent me messages that were abusive, one person even saying that I was as bad as Harris because I was asking that we prayed for him.
But surely we pray, not just that Harris might encounter Jesus, but that he might discover that Christ accepts him as he is - and wants to transform him into what he can become. We pray, partly because what we don't need is a man emerging from his prison cell in a few years, chastened but unchanged, which might mean that he strikes again.
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Pray for Rolf Harris. He doesn't deserve our prayers. But none of us 'deserve' anything. That's why grace is so amazing.
Jeff Lucas is an international speaker, writer and broadcaster. He serves as a teaching pastor at Timberline Church, Colorado.