The family of Pastor Verlyn Strenge who’s killed by a drunk driver left the entire Courtroom speechless with an unlikely decision during the hearing.
Strenge was a pastor of First Baptist Church in Clearbrook. His Jeep Cherokee collided with David Nelson’s uncontrollable pickup truck. Nelson rear-ended his vehicle because he was driving at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone. Also, his alcohol blood content was .267, which was three times higher than the accepted limit.
The pastor died, and his wife was in a critical condition. Nelson was sentenced to almost 3-year imprisonment due to vehicular homicide.
Strenge was well-loved in his church and community. He served as a pastor for 25 years. He’s known to be a lover of God’s word and his people. His obituary stated that his “life goal was to share the love of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone.” That’s why his passing was so painful, not only for his family but also for their church members. His sudden death shocked a lot of people. He had made a significant impact on the lives of many.
But what was equally shocking was what happened in the courtroom. It was so surprising that it moved a prosecutor to tears, and the judge was also startled.
Jayme Nelson, the pastor’s daughter, said, “We forgive you. As hard as it was at first, we want you to know that we have been praying for you for the past year because we know your life has been impacted by the biggest mistake of your life.” This moment was even made more emotional when Rick Moore, one of their church’s members, said that they had been “forgiven much” and could not withhold forgiveness from Nelson.
Strenge’s family approached and hugged David Nelson before he was moved to prison. Merry Gale, his widow, even said, “I forgive you, David. Please forgive yourself.” Strenge’s children also approached him. His daughter said that she would pray for Nelson and his family. Talk about love and compassion at its finest. County Attorney Katy Lorsbach was reportedly in tears, and Judge Eric Schieferdecker had never witnessed anything like this before.
The Strenge family and their church members were only able to forgive because of God’s love. It was His love that pushed them to forgive someone who hurt them the most. If not for His love, only pain and anger will reign in their hearts. Left on our own, we cannot forgive others. But because of His boundless love for us, the impossible becomes possible.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19