20 years ago, Mary Johnson’s son was shot and killed by a young man named Oshea Israel. “He was an animal and he deserved to be caged,” she introduces him in a clip from the SMOOCH Documentary.
Oshea was sentenced to 25 and half years in prison, but during his 12 year sentence Mary made the courageous decision to visit him in prison. “We just need to get to know one another,” she told him and they hugged. That was the first step in a relationship that may be unclear to others but felt so right for Mary Johnson. “I know that it was over, that I truly truly had forgiven him,” Mary describes of that breakthrough moment they shared.
Now, Mary Johnson recognizes Oshea as her “spiritual son,” and he says she’s his second mother. Not only do they treat each other like they’re blood related, they’re also neighbors.
When these two are not cooking or praying together, they pay visits to the local correctional facility to share with other criminals about their story. They call their story “From Death to Life,” and share it with anyone who will listen; Mary believes it’ll play a role in stopping violence. Together they’ve spoken at churches, prisons, schools, and conferences across the nation and inspire everyone who they meet.
During their journey, Mary has reunited with Oshea’s mother, Carolyn. She feels like it’s her calling to be a bridge. “We’re all hurting and we all need to forgive… and we all need to move on.”
This story is unlike anything we’ve heard before, but it’s one everyone should hear.
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