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Dark Journey Deep Grace (Jeffrey Dahmerís Story of Faith)
Author: Roy Ratcliff with Lindy Adams
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers
Pages: 176

Can a story about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer be beautiful?  

My mind takes me to a verse in the gospel of John: ďThe light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome itĒ (John 1:8 ESV).  Dark Journey Deep Grace shows that the darkness of Jeffrey Dahmerís past cannot overcome the light of Christ.  The grace of Christ Jesus is more than able to transform a life that has known the depths of depravity.

I was apprehensive about reading this book because of the inevitable retelling of Dahmerís crimes.  A couple of chapters are somewhat disturbing, but I found that grace runs through this account.  I see it in Dahmerís desire to be baptized and to obediently follow Christ.  Because he had done so much wrong, he wanted so badly to do everything right that it bordered on legalism.   

This is where God used Roy Ratcliff, a sincere and humble Church of Christ pastor that God uniquely prepared for this situation.  Overwhelmed with regret for his crimes, Dahmer thought of suicide.  Ratcliff at one time was so low over a failed pastorate that he too contemplated the same.  He gently helped Dahmer to see the issue in light of Scripture, and was also able through their ongoing study of the Bible to guide Dahmer away from a legalistic faith.  Ratcliff wanted Dahmer to know that he was fully loved and accepted by God.  

Ratcliff never sought notoriety, but he had to deal with it when word of Dahmerís baptism reached the press.  The grief that it caused was overshadowed by his concern for his relationship with the man he knew as Jeff.  He was pleasantly surprised to learn that Dahmer was glad that people learned of his baptism.  Dahmer had a desire to share his faith with others.

This is a wonderful account, simply told, of Ratcliffís seven-month relationship with Dahmer.  One of the beautiful aspects of the book is that the two became friends.  As a result, Ratcliff is able to share intimately about how Dahmer changed after becoming a Christian. 

Dahmer dared to ask the question: Is there a place in heaven for a sinner like me?  This book answers yes.  Itís surprising to learn that many people, including Christians, found it difficult to believe that Dahmer could be forgiven and have a place in heaven.  It makes one wonder if Christians truly believe that the vilest offender can receive pardon from sin through faith in Christ.

Ratcliff uses misunderstanding in the minds of people to write briefly about the difference between forgiveness and justice.  This might help those who struggle with the thought of God accepting Dahmer and his being a Christian.  The book, however, leaves little doubt about his faith being genuine.  

The writing is excellent making for easy reading.  The author shows a wonderful balance in what he chose to write about.  He wisely and tactfully addresses a number of issues without being preachy.

Thereís a beauty in being able to tell the truth in a simple and straightforward manner.  Thatís what I find here.  

This is a tragic story made beautiful in the end by the grace of God.

Michael Dalton
December 16, 2006



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