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Sister of Botham Jean — Killed in Home by Off-Duty Cop — Shares Struggles With Forgiveness, Justice in New Book

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By B.T. Irwin, The Christian Chronicle

Are memorials the best we can do in the face of injustice? When do laws need to change?

These questions and more are what Allisa Charles-Findley has struggled with since 2018. The sister of Harding University alumnus Botham Jean, who was murdered in his apartment by an off-duty police officer, wrestled with the concept of forgiveness — and understanding where justice fits into the equation — after her brother’s death.

It’s a topic she tackles in the recently released book “After Botham: Healing from My Brother’s Murder by a Police Officer.”

Findley has tirelessly advocated for victims killed by law enforcement since her brother’s death, as well as founded the Botham Jean Foundation, which carries on her brother’s legacy by supporting youth empowerment, social justice and poverty intervention programs around the world.

The extended version of this interview can be found on The Christian Chronicle Podcast.

B.T.: In the American church these days, we may forget Jesus wept, and I think maybe we’ve lost the ancient art of lamentation. What are you learning about grief and lament?

Allisa: I think in the beginning I tried to rush myself with the process that society dictates. You grieve for your loved one, and you move on and keep it moving. Even when it came down to my faith.

I was raised in the Church of Christ … and we were raised to not question God. Everything happens for a reason, and all these little verses that people throw at you that they think will make you feel better, but it actually makes you feel worse.

So my first struggle with losing Botham was with my faith. I was struggling not to question God and ask why. Because I prayed for Botham right before I went to sleep that night, and less than an hour later I get a call from Baylor University Hospital asking me to identify my brother over the phone. Right there, my faith took a hit.

B.T.: What is it like for you now to work on a relationship with God compared to before?

Allisa: I’m no longer angry at God.

In the beginning it was a little stiff, for lack of a better word. I would find my Bible lessons on faith. Then I would go on to lessons on peace, lessons on forgiveness, and it just really got me back to a place where I was familiar.

That’s what I wanted. I wanted to get back to the old Allisa where I knew all of this. This is what I know. This is what I’m used to. This is where I feel most at peace.


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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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