God changes hearts and lives. The evidence? Former Ku Klux Klan leader Joe Bednarsky Jr. left behind a hate-filled past in 2007, and now works as a bodyguard for a black pastor in Millville, New Jersey.
The story of restoration is absolutely incredible. Bednarsky, 49, was once a man who burned crosses, called black people the N-word and donned white hoods.
He lived a life that was deeply characterized by hate — one that paints a stark juxtaposition when compared to his current existence.
“I was incapable of loving others because I didn’t love myself. So many people today are unhappy with themselves and don’t love themselves,” Bednarsky told Philly.com. “I had that anger in me. I told people that I’d shoot you, your kids, your wife, and think nothing of it. That’s how bad it was.”
But after God reached his heart, Bednarsky said that he was forced to rethink everything. Flashforward 11 years and he’s a totally changed man. In fact, he now works at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Millville, where he serves as the predominately black church’s head of security, as Philly.com reported.
Just consider: a former KK leader is now helping ensure that a black church — including its pastor, the Rev. Charles E. Wilkins Sr. —has protection. It’s a story that only God could write.
“I was sent here by God to protect Pastor Wilkins,” Bednarsky said of his position at the church. “I would take a bullet for him.”
Reminders of his past still persist, though, including a KKK tattoo that is on his hand. But Bednarsky’s heart is transformed. After he left the KKK, he even sold his robe as well as his gear at auction — and gave the money to a church.
Wilkins told Philly.com that Bednarsky first came to the church in 2009 for some meals and that Wilkens quickly learned that Bednarsky’s heart had been changed.
Years later, the two are close friends, but the preacher said not everyone is so willing to forget the past.
“I have people in my church who don’t trust him. I’ve got white people in the community who don’t trust him. He’s got it on both sides,” Wilkins said. “I’ve got ministers in the community who preach the gospel of forgiveness but haven’t been able to get past his past. Joe’s heart is real. He comes to my home. He eats at my table.”
What an incredible story of transformation.