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Christian Death Row Inmate Kelly Gissendaner Finds Peace Through God's Grace, Faith Leaders Petition to Save Her

( [email protected] ) Mar 09, 2015 03:04 PM EDT
Kelly Gissendaner was scheduled to be the first woman put to death in Georgia in 70 years, but a last-minute stay of execution was granted for the second time when the lethal injection drug appeared tainted. Now Christians around the world are praying to save the woman who has turned her life to Christ while on death row.
Kelly Gissendaner faces the death penalty, but faith leaders push for a permanent stay of execution. Photo:
Ann Borden

Kelly Gissendaner was scheduled to be the first woman put to death in Georgia in 70 years, but a last-minute stay of execution was granted for the second time when the lethal injection drug appeared tainted. Now Christians around the world are praying to save the woman who has turned her life to Christ while on death row.

"Please join Crossroad in praying for Kelly, who is a living testament to the transforming power of God's grace," said Crossroad Bible Institute president Dr. David Schuringa in a press release. "May the Lord work a miracle and find a way to save Kelly's life. And may He bring her, her family and the family of her husband peace."

Gissendaner was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of her husband. While she didn't actually commit the murder, she persuaded her boyfriend at the time to commit the act. The former boyfriend took a plea bargain for parole eligibility on his own life sentence, but Kelly did not accept a plea bargain when her lawyer incorrectly assumed that the jury would be leniant.

But during her time on death row, Kelly was regularly visited by a pastor who opened her eyes to the Lord. She joined the Crossroad Bible Institute from 2007 to 2010 as a student and soon became a mentor herself. The CBI's mission is aimed at spreading God's grace to those held in prison, and it truly changed Kelly's life. 

"Kelly's growth in theological knowledge was outpaced only by her personal transformation," Schuringa describes. "According to Pastor Dottie Benson, Kelly entered prison a bitter woman, but she is now a mentor and mother figure to many inmates there. Prisoners tell stories of 'Mama Kelly' talking them out of suicide, encouraging them to behave well in prison and helping them meet their goals."

Kelly Gissendaner
Kelly Gissendaner embraces fellow graduate of Crossroads Bible Institute. Photo: Ann Borden

Her redemption story has inspired a new petition requesting clemency and has already been signed by 1,100 pastors around the nation, including prominent faith leaders such as Desmund Tutu and Shane Claiborne. 

This most recent execution delay was a result of the lethal injection drug, pentobarbital, appearing cloudy to officals. The drug passed a potency test, but an investigation is ongoing to see if it can still be used.

But when the execution was postponed, Gissendaner's final words to her children were released to the public, showing the love she has for her family.

"I just want to tell my kids that I love them and I'm proud of them and no matter what happens tonight, love does beat out hate. You keep strong and keep your heads up. I love you," she said in the recorded message.

"I want to tell my lawyers thank you for all they've done. No matter what happens I know you've done your best and I love you all."

Gissendaner's new execution date is planned to be rescheduled and announced as soon as the lethal injection drug passes inspection.