Monday, December 22, 2008

Bill and SueZann Bosler

Bill Bosler was pastor in Miami, Florida's First Church of the Brethren. He went about his work largely unnoticed by our denomination or by the city where he worked. He served in a racially troubled neighborhood. Under his leadership, the Miami congregation grew from 12 to 70: Salvadorians, Haitians, Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, whites, American blacks and others. The poor, the alienated, the struggling, the young were among those he served.

Bill Bosler died the way he lived: reaching out to a young stranger in a poor, high-crime area filled with violence and danger. At 2 p.m. on December 22, 1986, he was murdered at the parsonage by someone who came to his home asking for help. He died with love toward the young man who attacked him.

SueZann Bosler, Bill Bosler's daughter, walked into the room where he father lay dying from knife wounds. His killer turned on SueZann, slashing her three times in the back and twice on her skull. Pretending to be dead, her life was spared. When the man left, she called for help.

It took months for SueZann to recover from the physical and emotional trauma she had suffered. Her lifelong opposition to the death penalty was put to the strongest possible test. Her father's convictions about the sacredness of life helped sustain her during that time. Several Bible passages strengthened her view that "only God has the right to take a human life."

The intruder, James Bernard Campbell, was arrested and convicted. The judge sentanced him to die in the electric chair. SueZann went to the judge to plead that the killer's life be spared. Since that time she has become an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, telling her story and appealing as a witness to the way of Christ, a way that advocates mercy in place of vengence.

"I want to give James Campbell something," she told Annual Conference in an emotional appearance. "I want him to have a Bible."

Source: To Follow in Jesus' Steps, C. Wayne Zunkel