Deception and Our Decisions

Post 2 of 4
The following blog story by Maurie at “One Single Voice” caught my attention and reminded me of how easily we can be deceived- even by those whom we place on the pedestal. Yet, when this happens to us, how do we respond?
Excerpt from One SINGLE voice
“…When I met him, he was introduced to me as Jerry. He was an incoming sophomore at Permian High School and he met some of my students through basketball. He was soft-spoken and respectful and showed an interest in spiritual things. He came regularly on Sunday mornings and occasionally on a Wednesday night for the better part of a year. I learned bits and pieces of his story, told to me by students, parents and Jerry himself. There were some substantial gaps in his life, but it was understandable given all that he told us he’d been through –  orphaned in Haiti, immigrated to the US, bounced between relatives and older siblings until somehow, he had ended up in West Texas.  It seemed an unlikely place to start a life, but he had an older brother who was playing ball at the local university and Jerry had tagged along… Soon, the town knew him – he adjusted well at school, made a lot of friends, started playing on the varsity basketball team. He wasn’t the star, but he was good and people talked about what potential he had.

Jerry also became a fixture at church. He wanted to be baptized, to show publicly the commitment he had made to follow Christ. He became part of our faith family, so much so that an elderly couple “adopted” him and lovingly called them their grandson. He carried his own Bible and listened intently during Bible study. It was apparent that he wanted to know more, grow more and be more.

It was shaping up to be a sweet, feel-good story until the spring of 2010. That was when Jerry was arrested at Permian High School and we were told –

He wasn’t an orphan.
He wasn’t a teenager.
He wasn’t Jerry Joseph.

His name was Guerdwich Montimere. He was 22. His mom lived in Florida. He had graduated from high school years ago. The “brother” he followed to Odessa was actually a former teammate from his high school basketball team. He had lied. But had his lies made our lives one too?

When something you believe to be true is found to be false, it shakes your confidence. If you were wrong about that, then what else have you missed?
There were people who said that Odessa would do whatever it took to win in sports and we were reminded again of the Friday Night Lights shadow that Permian High School and our community still lives under… Then there were people who snickered about Jerry’s church attendance, saying that, of course, a liar could go undetected in the midst of more liars. There was outrage that he had been among teenagers, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the accusation went. Obviously, Christians were gullible and foolish to fall for the lost teenager act and “hypocrite” was applied with reckless abandon.

The question, “How could they not have known?” was most often spoken about, not to the school, the Wrights and the church. There was an unspoken accusation that we had all been enablers in this scam. We had allowed Jerry Joseph to live the charade and even become participants in it…or had we?”

wolf
When Deception Hit Close to Home

After college and newly married, as many of my friends were at the time, one of my close family friends took a husband. This Godly man she met was everyone’s friend, neighbor and son. He walked in uprightness, integrity- handled his own struggling small business without complaint. This man became a youth pastor of a rural church where he and his new bride (my friend) were planning to move.

Less than a year into marriage, on one of their trips out to the area where they were planning to buy property, they stopped for the night and camped in their camper. The next morning, her husband found his wife dead outside the camper at the edge of a small body of water. Her husband did everything in his power to revive her to no avail. My friend had taken a strong allergy suppressant the night before and wandered out into the darkness before dawn, falling to her death in a nearby pond.

All of us attended the funeral. It was an amazing display of both emotion and celebration that we had been given the gift of her presence on earth for the years that she lived. Her husband was beyond repair- only able to look at the heavens with his hands raised high to the Lord, trusting Him for the next breath.

In the procession past my friend’s casket, I shook the hand of this husband, who held on to me like we had always known each other. He looked me in the eyes and held back his tears with a pain-filled slight smile as his mother-in-law introduced us. I left that funeral changed; wanting to have the kind of strength of character and trust in God this man had shown us all.

One year later, the man who left his wife’s funeral and moved in with his in-laws to grieve the loss as a family, was arrested and charged with the murder of my friend. After prosecutors began unfolding their case- he confessed to the murder to escape the inevitable death penalty that would follow his conviction.

You see, this man was the epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The prosecutors took almost a year to discover that my friend had been suffocated, then transported by a two-wheeled metal dolly from their campsite and dropped face-down in an open field in a pool of groundwater to give the appearance of a drowning. Her husband had been discovered taking out several life insurance policies to the tune of $1.6 million on his new bride leading up to her death.

Was I bitter, angry, vengeful, taken? Yes. We all were. But I will not regret the love we showed this man in what seemed to be his ultimate time of need, though there was nothing truly lovely in him. And although prosecutors suspected otherwise, we did not know the deception, and believed in him that he was a man of God. And today, I rest in the knowledge that God has brought him to justice on earth, and I was without reproach.

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This article was written by K. Scott Rimell

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