MINNEAPOLIS -- Could you forgive someone who killed one of your loved ones? For many, the answer is simple: no.
But for Mary Johnson of Minneapolis, it's not that easy. And that's why her story is being featured in a new movie that will be shown at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.
"I'd been carrying around this huge bag full of bitterness, full of hatred, full of anger for years," said Johnson.
In 1993, Johnson's son Laramiun Byrd was murdered by then 16-year-old Oshea Israel in Minneapolis. For some time, Johnson carried around pain and hatred toward Israel - until she visited him in prison.
After speaking with him for hours, the two hugged. When she was leaving, Johnson said she physically felt the pain and hatred inside her.
"I felt it on the inside, I felt it move and I felt it leave me," Johnson explained.
From that point on, Johnson truly forgave Israel and the two developed a relationship almost like that of a mother and son. Israel even lived next door to Johnson for three years.
Her story of forgiveness inspired Dawn Mikkelson, director of the new film Risking Light.
"Her persona is one of power and also kindness," said Mikkelson.
Mikkelson's film follows three stories about "forgiving the unforgivable," including Johnson's story.
"I think that she has a message that has helped so many people even before this film came out," Mikkelson said. "She's been speaking across the country and telling her story and changing lives."
Mikkelson and her crew also traveled to Australia and Cambodia to share stories of forgiveness from people there.
Risking Light will be shown at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival on Tuesday, April 17 and Sunday, April 22. Unfortunately, both shows are sold out.