Today my heart is reminded of Teresa Lewis. As an inmate at Fluvanna Correctional Facility, I was present during the time of her execution. Leading up to her scheduled execution day, I attended a church service in which Teresa shared her story and her heart. She could not be present as death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement, however I clearly remember the telling of her story. The prison rec room was packed that day with women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The room was silent and we listened with a heartfelt respect. Many of these women knew her as a friend. Teresa gave her life to Christ and she wanted us to know that forgiveness was available for us too. A book was brought in each cell block for us to leave her personal messages. Women lined up to write final words to Teresa. I was at a loss for words and I pondered for some time. What do you say to a woman as she stares head on into the cruel face of death? What words of consolation could I possibly offer this beautiful lady who was my spiritual sister? Finally I gathered myself and made my way to the book, pen in hand. There were no adequate words and so I gave her a song,
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face..And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
They locked us down as they transported her and carried out her execution. The mood was somber and my heart was heavy. I didn’t know her, but God did. I wondered would she hear those words as she took her final breaths. I prayed she would! God bless you Teresa Lewis for your willingness to share Jesus, to share forgiveness, and your painful story. I believe you are safe now in the arms of Jesus and all your tears have been wiped away! You are remembered!
Written by: Tiffany Jackson
Photography courtesy of: Bobbie Osborne