Otis McAllister: Grace for a murderer

His foot was on the gas pedal, but God told him to stop. Returning to his hometown presented Otis McAllister with an unthinkable meeting: standing face-to-face with the man who had murdered his brother fourteen years prior.

“The last time he had seen me, I vowed to kill him.”

Currently a South African businessman, Otis grew up on church pews and under the guidance of parents who were dedicated Christians. His own faith, however, was mediocre. “My spiritual walk was lukewarm,” he admits.

When his brother was killed, the hit to Otis’ faith was almost fatal as well.

“It was on a Sunday morning that my brother came to my house and fell at my door,” he recalls. “Before he bled out, he managed to tell me who had done this to him. When he died a few hours later, I tracked down the guy and vowed that the next time I saw him, I would kill him.”

“I was really angry at the Lord,” Otis adds, “and I made a conscious decision to walk away from Him.”

The Journey to Healing

But just as death had turned him away, death also brought him back.

When his mother became ill ten years later, Otis began praying for healing. Within months of her death, he was the one who was healed. “On her deathbed, my mother prayed that I would return to the Lord. He healed me in a supernatural way,” he says victoriously.

Otis’ life was changed. “I became zealous about the things of the Lord,” he says. He eventually went to Bible school, and on the third anniversary of his recommitment to Jesus, Otis began taking a Lead Like Jesus course.

“I knew Jesus was my Savior, I knew He was a teacher, and I knew He was my God,” he says. “But I had never considered Him to be a leader.”

Otis was challenged, and the most crucial lesson he learned in the Lead Like Jesus course led to radical application. “Receiving unconditional love and being able to give it out: that was the centerpiece for me,” he says.

An Unlikely Encounter

A week after completing the course, Otis returned to his hometown on a business trip. Immediately, he was given the difficult opportunity to demonstrate unconditional love.

“I was driving early in the morning when I saw him from behind,” he says. “I knew it was him.”

Clearly hearing from the Lord to stop driving and face his brother’s murderer, Otis made excuses. But each time, God’s response was the same: “Stop the car. I want you to speak to him.”

Otis knew that beside him walked the man he had hated enough to kill – and before him lay the greatest challenge he had ever faced.

Finally, Otis uttered, “Yes, Lord.” He approached the startled man.

Peace in Forgiveness

“I am here in peace,” he promised. “I am a born-again Christian, and the Lord has led me to you today. I’m here to forgive you.”

Otis watched the shoulders of the man drop and listened as he spoke of the torment he had experienced since committing murder.

“So I stood there with the murderer of my brother, and I prayed for him in the road,” says Otis. “I blessed him, I blessed his family, and I promised that I would continue praying for him, which I have done.”

And, inspired by the radical example of unconditional love modeled by Jesus, Otis reached out to his former foe in an unbelievable way: “I hugged him,” he smiles.

“Lead Like Jesus is a ministry of profound impact,” Otis concludes. “The impact is vast and has been in every single area of my life.”