Randolph Loney, a former college educator, operates a family farm in Harris County, Georgia, and serves as pastor in the Glad River Congregation, a small church composed of persons from the Mercer University Community in Macon. He has been visiting prisoners on Georgia's death row since 1985. On the pages of this tender and touching work of love, Loney bears witness to the lives of men struggling for dignity, meaning, and love while awaiting execution by the state.
With a patient and exquisite sense of compassion and empathy, the author identifies with their loneliness, desperation, susceptibility to rage, and yearning for love. Loney tells their stories, and we feel intimations of God's grace: "There was no reason to expect this love to exist when faced with so much cinder block and steel, indifference and punishment, but it did. And I saw divine Love keep breaking into view, regardless of our efforts to edge it out of the world."
The author pays tribute to the "dynamic of their very souls" that he witnessed in his regular meetings with death row prisoners "the painful confrontation with their own inner darkness, the process of grieving, the opening to beauty, the giving and receiving of the gift of love." Of course, he also finds it very hard not to plunge into despair when reading an editorial in a Georgia newspaper about a prisoner he knew: "Criminals like Henry Willis III, the others executed before him and those currently under death sentences are human waste. Executing them should come as easily to a civilized society as flushing the toilet."
With a sharp-edged sense of justice, Loney notes: "In our adherence to the death penalty, we part company with Canada and Western Europe. We resist the worldwide trend to outlaw executions. We keep company with countries such as Iran, Iraq, and China." Bless this courageous man and his valiant ministry. He incarnates the radical Gospel of Jesus Christ by practicing compassion on killing grounds.