Albert Einstein once said that, “Freedom, in any case, is only possible by constantly struggling for it.”
Most of us take for granted every day, as we drink a cup of coffee on the porch, that we have the freedom to step outside into the sunshine.
There is no struggle in that.
One man, however, struggled daily to fight for his freedom from behind bars, not knowing if there was going to be a day where the truth would set him free, but he never gave up.
Maintaining persistence and a positive attitude through Christ saw him through his biggest trials.
While incarcerated, inmates have limited access to basic luxuries — like grabbing a snack when you want or running to the store when you run out of milk — but that is the price of breaking the law. Freedoms are forfeited when a crime is committed.
However, there are times when the justice system has failed, and those sentenced to serve time are wrongfully convicted.
During these fallible moments, we must look to God to see His will be done.
And that is exactly what Ray Hinton did during his nearly 30-year incarceration on death row, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.
He was arrested at a time where racial profiling was at its worst in small town Alabama.
“Hinton served 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. He only saw the sun for an hour a day and never knew or even at times believed that he would see the sun as a free man again.”
Hinton’s mom would visit him in prison as often as she could and would ask if his cell has windows so he could see the sun rise and fall. Not wanting to upset her, he told her it did, when in fact the room was small and enclosed.
Now a free man, Hinton resells his harrowing tale in the New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club selection, “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row.”
Christian Headlines was able to interview Hinton and gain insight into his journey from incarceration to freedom, and how he was able to retain the strength to see it through. He learned a great deal about God and his faithfulness, and how all things work for His Glory (Romans 8:28).
During his time on death row, it became aware to him that God was calling him to be a light to those he came into contact with; not just the inmates, but the correctional officers as well. Through this realization, he found freedom in God.
It would be easy for a man to feel bitterness and resentment while behind bars, knowing that he was put there unjustly. That was not the case for Hinton. He believes that his time in Alabama’s prison system was not wasted, he told Christian Headlines.
In fact, Hinton believes that he is a “better man” because of his experience. What an amazing testament to the power of God rising you above your circumstances! The time behind bars was used for witnessing to others, showing the love of Christ, and being a living example of true faith.
You can watch witness the powerful testimony from Hinton himself on YouTube, hearing how God uses the most unlikely of situations to make His name known.
Hinton was convicted of three murders, two of which had no evidence connecting him at all to the crimes. A man in Alabama was abducted, robbed, and shot during a time when Hinton was “locked in a supermarket warehouse cleaning floors”, reports the Guardian.
The victim survived the attack, and then identified Hinton as the assailant. The ballistic evidence was allegedly falsified to tie a gun owned by Hinton’s mother to the murder. Hinton claims his “only crime was being born black in Alabama.”
Hinton found a lawyer to finally take his case after sending him his previous court transcripts. He asked that the lawyer look them over to see if there was reason he should be imprisoned, and the lawyer saw insufficient evidence to convict Hinton.
After appealing to the Alabama court systems to no avail, the case was taken directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2015, Hinton proved that prayers do not fall on deaf ears, and the court “ruled unanimously in his favor”, according to the Guardian.
The district attorney dropped the case 14 months later, and Hinton stepped out into the sunshine a free man. Even after time to reflect on his imprisonment, Hinton has forgiven everyone involved in his conviction.
He said he has forgiven “because that’s how my mother raised me” and “because I have a God who forgives.” With this message of prayer, hope, and forgiveness, Hinton has traveled around the world inspiring others.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
If Hinton can keep a positive attitude and his eyes on Jesus for 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, it helps put into perspective our daily grievances and distractions that take our focus on the one who came so that we can be forgiven.
Please let us know in the comments section what you think of Hinton’s story, and his testimony for Christ.