24-year-old Brryan Jackson recently faced his father, Bryan Stewart, at a parole hearing.
Stewart was up for parole from the Missouri Department of Corrections, a place that he has called home since injecting his son with HIV infected blood as a newborn. Emotions ran high when Jackson addressed the room. His emotional speech to the parole committee talked about how his faith in God allowed him to forgive his father for the horrific and unthinkable act he did so many years before.
The former Bryan Stewart, Jr. and mother, pictured below, were not aware of the child’s diagnosis, even after seeing many doctors. However in 1992, when Brryan was 3-years-old, a pediatrician called for an HIV test and the results came back positive.
The late diagnosis given was full blown AIDS and Jackson was given 5 months to live.
1992 was the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and was considered the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44, the U.S. Government’s website on AIDS managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said on its timeline of the disease, running from 1981 to 2016.
This was obviously an unimaginably difficult prognosis to swallow for his mother and himself, who told his mother at the time, “I don’t want to die.”
As an adult, Jackson has distanced himself from his father, who’s a military man that claimed that his PTSD was the main culprit behind his actions.
To do this, Jackson has taken on his mother’s maiden name, changed his first and found power in the gospel.
He told the BBC that he was able to forgive his father because of his faith, it came as a 13-year old while he was studying the Bible alone in his bedroom.
Saying, this enabled him to forgive. Adding, “forgiveness isn’t easy, but I don’t want to lower myself to his level.”
Before the moment of truth, when he was asked to sit close to the man that attempted to kill him, Brryan asked for God’s divine help and strength.
“In that moment, I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but my mother always taught me to be courageous,” he explained.
“I tried to remind myself that God was with me. Whatever the result of the hearing, God is bigger than me, bigger than my father, bigger than that room or even the Justice Department.”
Jackson’s non-profit Hope Is Vital promotes an understanding about HIV, an cause that is dear to his heart from being bullied due to his disease.
He recalls, “they’d call me things like, ‘Aids boy, gay boy.'”