Sometimes, life can take us to an adventure unknown before us. And your race, culture, skin color, religion and the values you currently hold don't matter when God has a plan of using you for His kingdom. And Gene Mcguire is one of the persons whom God has called and chosen despite his past life.
"It happened in a blur. One minute we were enjoying a night out, shooting pool. The next thing I knew, we were running from the law-wanted for murder," shared Gene Mcguire who was 17 years old at that time when it happened.
He recalled that he was with his cousin and step-brother the night it all happened, the night his life had been changed forever. His cousin, Bobby invited him to a place called Marine Room that served alcoholic drinks, and minors weren't much an issue.
Mcguire said, "Alcohol abuse was prevalent in my rural Pennsylvania home. My biological dad drank himself to death. My mom couldn't tell me not to drink since she did excessively every day. She did try to keep me home that night" but eventually, she let go with the cousin talking over it.
And at the place where the crime happened, Mcguire was too drunk to think rightly when his cousin intentionally decided to rob the place.
Moreover, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the bartender was a 60-year-old woman named Isabelle Nagy whom Mcguire knew and had no intentions of hurting her so "he just walked outside the bar. (At trial, the prosecution said he was posted as a lookout)."
It was then that his cousin stabbed the woman ending her life brutally.
"One day I'm a star athlete in high school and the next day I'm hiding out in a drug den in New York...It was unbelievable" Mcguire said.
Mcguire "couldn't escape the reality of what had happened" so he returned back to Pennsylvania and turned himself in to detectives, exposing what had happened that night. But since he was present during the crime scene, he realized at that moment that he is not going home.
And the day before Mcguire turns 18 years of age, the law judged him for second-degree murder, a life imprisonment without parole.
Sometimes, people can really make messes; walk roads that seem to have no point of return, and wake up to a kind of life you never wished for. But God is too kind, too good and too loving to leave us behind.
Despite what had happened to Gene Mcguire, what seemed to be the worst thing that ever happened in his life was actually something he could be thankful for in the future.
"God had used a number of people: my mom (who had recently come to faith in Christ), people who wrote me letters, fellow inmates like Warner, and members of the prison staff who knew the Lord" Mcguire said.
He met a lot of religious folks in prison and shared that coming inside the prison's chapel with all the worship music, genuine and heartfelt welcome from church volunteers, and "passing out hugs like everybody was their friend" was an experience he could not compare.
And before he even knew it, he was returning back to the service with a preacher's message stuck in his head: "Real men make commitments." A life committed to God. He was undecided at that time.
It was also then that he met Rev. Larry Titus, a pastor from Christ Community Church (who became his mentor and discipled him for 25 years).
Then the moment came when Mcguire had finally accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and surrendered his life to God. He shared that he "felt as if a ton of weight rolled right off my back, as if chains fell away and I was free."
Dec. 7, 1986 was the exact date Mcguire's relationship with Christ began.
And while he was "petitioning the governor to commute [his] life sentence" resulting to rejection, Mcguire still praised the Lord despite the 32-year imprisonment and 2 1/2 years of waiting.
But God is the God of miracles, and nothing is impossible to those who believe.
Mcguire said, "As I was giving thanks, I heard God say, "I am going to release you." I had no idea when or how, but I rested in his promise."
And in June 2010, Mcguire "received a notice from an attorney out of the blue" and the Lord was fulfilling what He spoke to Mcguire. April 3, 2012, Gene Mcguire finally got his release and the word of the Lord came to pass.
Mcguire, now a pastor, is the writer of the book entitled "Unshackled: From Ruin to Redemption (Emerge Publishing)."
"There is no reason I'm here today, free, other than the grace of God" - Gene Mcguire