When a drunk driver killed a pastor, his family was left heartbroken. However, they forgave the guilty party, and the encounter was emotional for everyone in the courtroom.
A prosecutor in a Bagley, Minnesota courtroom was moved to tears. Pastor Verlyn Strenge was the victim of a tragic car accident, and his final sermon was about forgiveness.
This was something that would stick with his family. When the man responsible for Strenge's death was sentenced in Clearwater County Courthouse, no one could have imagined what would happen next.
Family members embrace the man who was responsible for their father's death | Photo: Youtube/Lakeland PBS
MOVED TO TEARS
Fifty-eight-year-old David Nelson rear-ended the pastor's Jeep in 2020 and did irreversible damage. He was over the drinking limit and driving at high speed. He knew he was going to prison, but he did not expect the family's reaction toward him.
Judge Eric Schieferdecker and County Attorney Katy Lorsbach also didn't think the Strenge family would behave as they did. Their attitude was commendable and moved the prosecutor to tears.
The daughter of a pastor who was killed in a car accident says she forgives the drunk driver | Photo: Youtube/Lakeland PBS
A MESSAGE OF FORGIVENESS
A fellow church attendee that knew the pastor well stated:
"We have been forgiven so much. How could we not forgive you."
Strenge's daughter also expressed her forgiveness. Jayme Nelson said it was difficult at first, but they started to pray for the guilty party. She added: "We know your life has been impacted by the biggest mistake of your life." Strenge's wife was also in the car when the accident took place.
Man who was charged with drunk driving and the death of a pastor is thankful for the family's forgiveness | Photo: Youtube/Lakeland PBS
DID NOT EXCUSE HIS ACTIONS
She was seriously injured but survived the ordeal. Prosecutor Lorsbach revealed what happened in the moments before the crash. Nelson never took his foot off the gas, and the impact was devastating.
Nelson's lawyer, Christopher Karpan, indicated that they did not want to excuse his actions. He accepted his punishment and the jail sentence.
A photo of the pastor who was killed in a car accident | Photo: Youtube/Lakeland PBS
THANKFUL FOR THEIR UNEXPECTED KINDNESS
Nelson also spoke and thanked the family for their kindness. He said: "I very much appreciate the forgiveness aspect of what they brought up. I decided today I was not going to ask for it."
After the hearing, various members of the Strenge family walked up to Nelson. Their actions were unexpected. Mrs. Strenge, as well as her son and daughter, hugged the guilty man.
"PLEASE FORGIVE YOURSELF"
In a poignant moment, Mrs. Strenge stated: "I forgive you, David, please forgive yourself." The entire court meeting was full of emotional moments. The warmth shown toward Nelson was unforgettable to those in attendance.
The family's forgiveness also touched netizens. One commenter wrote: "Only God can bring such love in peoples hearts, even in this broken world." Mr. Strenge would undoubtedly be proud of his wife and kids for how they handled the tragedy and for practicing what he preached.
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