When it was time for the summer Olympics last year, I was most looking forward to the Track and Field competitions. I’m a newbie runner, who, at the time, was in the midst of training for my second half marathon. Summer is a hard time to train, but I saw something at the Olympics that gave me some encouragement: a double amputee, Oscar Pistorius, running hard alongside athletes with all of their legs. Running is hard, exhausting work, and I cannot imagine running without the feet and knees that I know as my own. What we know of Pistorius from the Olympics, he’s been a double-amputee for the majority of his life. It’s all he’s really known. And that didn’t stop him from years of training hard and becoming a qualified athlete for the London Olympics. He became a hero to me that summer, and I thought about him when a run just felt too long and hard.
I am in the midst of training for a marathon. I came into the house this morning after my run and turned on the radio to NPR. I was walking around the house and something caught my ear: Oscar Pistorius charged with the murder of his girlfriend. What?! Isn’t that the guy from the Olympics, I thought? I sat down to listen to the short news story and my heart just sank. Allegedly charged with murder. Those on the radio made mention of rising crime rates in South Africa, potential burglary, the “gated community” mentality of those in SA, and police responding to domestic violence calls to Pistorius’s home earlier in the year. Pistorius is being held in jail without bail right now until his court appearance on Friday. He has not been proven guilty yet. However, as of right now, there are no other suspects in this case.
This man was incredibly popular in the Olympics, was talked about among friends of mine, and became a public figure in South Africa. And now we hear this deeply saddening news. Whatever “reasons” the news wants to offer, whatever possible influences for an act like this, neither can communicate the state of Pistorius’s heart, a heart that needs the redemptive work of the gospel. Chances are I will never meet Pistorius, but I am compelled to pray for this man, in hopes that the consequences of his actions provide an opportunity for his own repentance.