Ephesians 4:32 NLT
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Earlier this week there was a story in our local newspaper that spoke of forgiveness, and it illustrated how people live above the human thoughts or rewards or vengeance. Here is the article, and I pray we hear more about people living out real forgiveness like this…
Man convicted, fined in fatal crash
By PAUL COLLINS Bulletin Staff Writer
(original story can be found at THIS LINK)
In Henry County General District Court on Monday, a man who was charged with reckless driving in an Aug. 21 traffic crash that killed a Floyd couple was convicted of an amended charge of improper driving and fined $5 after the brother of one of the deceased expressed forgiveness and said he came to court to pay any fine.
The defendant, Conel Stafford Martin Jr. of Bassett, also will have to pay court costs ($61), Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jessica Henson said in an interview.
A news release from the Virginia State Police after the accident said that it happened about 10:08 p.m. on Route 903, just north of Va. 57A in Henry County. A 2005 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck was traveling northbound on Route 903 on the wrong side of the roadway. A 2014 Harley Davidson motorcycle traveling southbound on Route 903 attempted to avoid the Colorado and overturned, ejecting both riders.
Robert Eugene Clark Jr., 59, who was driving the motorcycle, and his wife, Pamela Judd Clark, 56, a passenger on the motorcycle, were transported from the scene to Memorial Hospital in Martinsville and later died as a result of the crash. Shortly before the accident, the Clarks had attended a Friday night worship service at T.R.A.S.H. (Totally Redeemed Anointed Servants of the Most High) Ministry in Collinsville, according to a previous report.
Martin said in late August that he is the pastor of House of Purpose Ministries near Bassett.
Bobby Clark served as an associate pastor at Abundant Life Fellowship in Pilot for a number of years, was an ordained minister for the denomination International Pentecostal Holiness Church and was leading a "re-launch" of a church in Floyd that was to be renamed One Accord Biker Church, Larry Meadors, a former pastor of the Clarks at Abundant Life Fellowship, said in August.
Meadors added that Bobby and Pam Clark had been missionaries to China with their son, Torrey.
Virginia State Police Master Trooper J.D. Byrd, who investigated the accident, testified Monday that Martin had been traveling on 57A but was rerouted behind CVS because of an ambulance fire (in the 500 block of Riverside Drive). After the pickup Martin was driving turned to go north on Route 903 (T.B. Stanley Highway), it was traveling left of the double-yellow line, and when Martin realized that, he tried to get to the correct side of the road. The motorcycle the Clarks were on laid over, they were ejected, and the pickup ran over both of the Clarks, according to Byrd.
"He ran over the both of them and killed them both," Byrd said.
The motorcycle and the pickup truck never touched, he added.
Martin said he saw some things skidding toward him, but he didn’t know what they were, Byrd said. It was dark, Byrd noted.
Martin said he was going 20 mph, and the speed limit there is 45 mph, Byrd testified.
Byrd told Judge Edwin A. Gendron Jr. that J.T. Clark of Boones Mill, brother of Bobby Clark, came to court to pay any fine.
Gendron asked J.T. Clark why he wanted to do that.
J.T. Clark said, "Our family has reached out to Mr. Martin in forgiveness," and in connection with that, he was there to pay any fine. "We love Mr. Martin." Clark added. "We don’t have any ill feeling."
Martin’s lawyer, Kimble Reynolds, said earlier during the hearing that the circumstances were tragic and Martin was remorseful.
Martin could be heard crying during the hearing.
After Gendron sentenced Martin, Martin and J.T. Clark hugged each other.
In an interview, Byrd said that during his nearly 37 years with the Virginia State Police, "I’ve never seen a case like that…. In all my years, I’ve never seen forgiveness like that."
Usually, victims’ families want the defendants to get the maximum punishments, Byrd indicated.
"This was just the opposite of that," Henson said in an interview.
She also said, "It really was an amazing case of forgiveness."
"You won’t ever see another (case) like this," Byrd said.
This is a story that is real to me. These people were involved in ministry. Others are still pastors. Their hearts were similar to mine and close to the place I care deeply about. I remember when these people died. I remember some friends being there that night and during the funeral.
But take a step further. Forgive and be forgiven. Watch what God does next.
Acts 26:18 NLT
to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’