MILLVILLE, N.J. (WTXF) - Trying to find the positive in even the darkest situations is what ‘For Goodness Sake’ is all about. But interviewing Joe Bednarsky, a former leader of the KKK honestly took it to a new level.
“I would shoot you, your children, your wife and think nothing about it, that’s the kind of mindset that I was in, I hated everybody.”
Joe Bednarsky is an imposing figure and he admits that he used that through 2 decades of hate. No one event changed him but at some point hating people just because of what they were wasn’t who he wanted to be.
“I would always hear that small whisper, this isn’t right Joe, looking down on people because of the color of skin and hating them.”
What Joe described as a religious experience inspired him to disband the Klan organization that he then headed, write apology letters and try to make amends. Now Joe spends his days working with a church and soup kitchen among the very people he spent those years hating.
However, the thing about redemption as much as you may want to change your life you need some sort of forgiveness from the people that you previously wronged and Joe found that forgiveness in a local pastor; Reverend Charles Wilkins
“We all have a season where someone gave us another chance. They say God is a God of second third and fourth chances but what about people.
After years of terrorizing the same city where Pastor Wilkins Church remains, Joe struggled to find a church willing to accept him. Pastor Wilkins was different. He did more than just forgive; he knew people in the community may have had issues with Joe but thought it was important to welcome him in.
“I believe that God is far more interested in my future than my past. So I have to be willing to extend that Grace if I want to receive it.”
Joe now works in the soup kitchen and drives the Pastor around, as head of security, and calls his former targets, brothers and sisters.
“The words of hatred that spewed out of my life they hurt people and I’m sorry I’ll be apologizing for the rest of my life.”
And Pastor Wilkins hopes that society can see that there is a place to forgive even people who have represented the face of hate.
“Sometimes if we want to be given another chance we have to be willing to give another chance.”
It’s easy to say I forgive you and move on but how many of us would allow someone who hurt us to the core back into our family to show they’ve changed and spread that message to others? I don’t know if I would but after meeting Joe and the pastor I know I’m inspired to try, For Goodness Sake.