Andrew Collins and Jameel McGee are two of the unlikeliest friends you’ll ever meet.
As a hard charging policeman who didn’t let department rules get in his way, Andrew was instrumental in convicting Jameel for a crime he never committed. Jameel went on to spend years in prison before his conviction was overturned. In the meantime, Andrew himself was convicted for drug possession.
But something remarkable happened to both men as their lives spiraled out of control. They both met Jesus Christ. Andrew started working with a wide-ranging ministry that offered mentoring & job skills training to help struggling people get back on their feet.
“And one day Miss Princella comes down – she ran the Job for Life program – and said, ‘Hey there’s this guy. And God has just laid it on my heart that you need to be his mentor. Do you know Jameel McGee?'”
“And I said, ‘You know what, that name sounds really familiar, but I don’t think I know him personally.'”
Jameel’s memory was understandably a little bit clearer on the subject, but he agreed to meet with Andrew anyway. The truth was, this would be their second reunion. Their first had been a chance encounter at Benton Harbor, Michigan’s Broadway Park. Andrew had apologized profusely for how his actions had changed Jameel’s life, but in that moment, Jameel wasn’t able to forgive him.
Andrew describes there second meeting,
“Jameel comes into the cafe, and I’m still oblivious. I say, ‘Man! C’mon over.’ I told him that I used to be a police officer in Benton Harbor, and that I used to do some awful things. I said that if I’ve ever harmed you or your family I want to apologize. And he had been smiling at me the whole time. I didn’t know what was so funny, so finally I asked what was so funny. He said, ‘We already had this conversation. In Broadway Park.'”
Instantly, Andrew’s memory clarified.
“Immediately I’m brought back to the anger. I’m thinking, ‘Oh no. This guy’s going to beat me up right here.’
But I also felt like it was a second opportunity to apologize. So I apologized again, and he was almost offended. He was leaning back in his chair and waving me off. He said, ‘It’s over! It’s forgiven, and it’s done! You were sorry then. You told me in the park that you were sorry. You told me in the park you were a new creation in Christ. You told me in the park that you were just seeking reconciliation, and it’s done. It’s forgiven.'”
“I still couldn’t accept that it was that easy. That’s why Jameel is like my picture of Jesus on earth. Jesus makes it so easy for us, and sometimes we think we have to do more, when it’s already been done.”
Andrew Collins is the co-author of the one of a kind story of redemption and forgiveness, Convicted: A Crooked Cop, an Innocent Man, and an Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship. He tours across America with his co-author Jameel McGee, sharing their message of reconciliation and hope.On the Road with Andrew Collins