Beloved father and grandfather Robert Godwin Sr. was senselessly murdered over the Easter weekend after a deranged man, who would later broadcast his actions to the internet, announced he was looking to randomly kill someone.
Three of his children gave an interview to CNN last night and they left Anderson Cooper (and quite frankly, anyone watching) in awe at their faith and perspective as they deal with this horrible tragedy.
Tonya Godwin Baines explained to Cooper what their dad taught them about faith:
“The thing I would take away most from my father is he taught us about God, how to fear God, how to love God and how to forgive. Each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer, we want to wrap our arms around him.”
“You do?” Cooper interjected, appearing to be a bit taken aback by the sentiment. Tonya’s sister continued:
“We absolutely do. I honestly can say right now I hold no animosity towards this man because I know that he’s a sick individual… I promise you I could not do that (forgive) if I didn’t know God, if I didn’t know him as my God and my Savior. I could not forgive that man. And I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually feel sadness in my heart for this man.”
Tonya then turned away from their own grief and talked about the other family involved, the killer’s family, and lamented the loss they will be going through.
“We lost our dad but this mother lost her son, his children lost their dad–”
Again, Cooper was stunned. “That’s incredible that you’re thinking about them, even in your time our grief,” he said.
Tonya again provided a window into their dad’s beautiful soul:
“It’s just what our parents taught us. It wasn’t that they just taught it, they didn’t just talk it, they lived it. People would do things to us and we would say ‘Dad, are you really going to forgive them, really?’ and he would say ‘yes, we have to.’ My dad would be really proud of us, and he would want this from us. He would say, Tonya, forgive them, because they know not what they do.”
Cooper, clearly moved, closed out the segment with a nice sentiment, saying ‘I wish I was a Godwin right now. Because you all represent your dad well.”
You can watch the exchange here:
Godwin was heading home after celebrating an Easter meal with family when he bumped into Steve Stephens, who had his phone out and was making a video, which would soon be uploaded to Facebook.
“Here’s somebody I’m about to kill. I’m about to kill this guy right here. An old dude” Stephens says on camera, before approaching Godwin to chat with him.
He then carried out his sick, twisted plan.
The testimony of Godwin’s children in the face of unspeakable tragedy are a testament to the kind of man he was. This is the sort of legacy most people dream to have, and Godwin obviously has achieved it.
Prayers for this family as they deal with such a senseless, unspeakable tragedy that took the life of a great man of faith.