This was written by Matt Vega, who studied under a friend of mine, Dr. Brian Howell, at Wheaton College in Chicago.
A World-Wide Confession:
I smoked weed almost everyday for four years until I was 18 years old.
I was arrested several times, for battery charges and retail theft.
I have robbed people at gunpoint.
I have been in near-death brawls and had guns pointed on me several times.
I have been in the car with drive-by shooters.
I was on a year-long probation sentence, criminal court supervision, and 5:00 house arrest mandate.
I sold KB Chronic in my hallways in high school and cocaine for a brief period of time.
I finished high school with a 1.6 GPA and a horrible ACT score.
There were nights I never came home and my mother wondered if I ever would.
My mother found a pistol under my mattress when I was seventeen years old.
I finished community college with a 3.9 GPA, participating in the Honors Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honors.
I completed a discipleship program, visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and discipled high school students every week.
I am an RA for a discipleship program.
I graduated from Wheaton College.
I served as the student chaplain for Wheaton College.
I served as a missionary associate in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
I did a study-abroad program for Turkey, Greece, Rome, Italy, and Israel/Palestine.
I bring all of this up because Michael Brown died at 18 years old, the same age that I was on probation. Many people have tried to illuminate his store “robbery” incident and paint him as a thug who deserved death. They paint him as an irredeemable demon and forget the fact that he was shot six times in the body, and lied unarmed for 4.5 hours in the street. Some don’t know how he could ever possibly be a poster-child for this Ferguson movement. Many forget that when Trayvon Martin died, many others attempted to murder his reputation too, suggesting that he deserved to die.
When you demonize this dead man, you demonize me. You are suggesting that I should be dead, too. You are suggesting that every young black or Hispanic man who acts like a “thug” deserves death. And for that, I only beg and pray that you ask for God’s forgiveness and illuminating grace to open your eyes and soften your heart. I am glad that I am alive. I wish Michael Brown was still alive, too.