You've found yourself in a hard place. You are looking for a way out, a purpose, hope through this experience. You are not alone. Others are in hard places too. Others have been in your shoes and have come out the other side. Here are their stories of how they found The Rock in their hard place.
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The Freedom of Forgiveness
By Joel Kime
1991, was a beautiful fall day—cool, clear, and crisp. After church my brother,
Jeff, and I shoveled down dinner and rushed out the door to play football with
our youth group. Along the way to the game, we picked up some friends. Though
only 17, I thought I was the best driver in the nation as I steered our car on
to a local country road.
We crested a
small hill and saw an Amish horse and buggy ahead of us (a common sight in Lancaster,
PA.). I thought to myself, “I’m going to blow by these guys!”
I stomped on
the gas, accelerating to 70-75 mph, steering the car into the left lane to pass
the buggy. As we raced closer to the buggy, I will never, ever forget seeing
the nose of the horse turning towards me, and I instantly knew they were trying
to turn. I wasn’t even watching for their turn signal, nor did I see the small
country road they were attempting to turn into.
over as I slammed my foot down on the brake pedal. The brakes locked and the
car skidded forward, tires screaming. We smashed into the buggy and I heard the
pop of my windshield as it shattered into tiny pieces. The buggy flew over the
top of my car and we rumbled to a stop in a field to the left. I wasn’t
prepared for what I saw when I got out.
The man was
yelling frantically, “Does anyone know CPR?” He was holding the crumpled form
of the woman who had been his passenger. She had severe facial trauma and was
and his friend ran to a nearby farm to call 9-1-1 while my friend and I flagged
down cars to get help.
and an ambulance arrived, with my dad not far behind. When the policeman took
my statement, I blurted out all the details hoping to get the burden off my
chest. I feared I was headed for jail. The policeman sent me home with my dad,
saying he’d follow up soon.
As my dad
drove home he said, “You've been through enough. We're not going to make it
worse for you.” Once home, I spent the next half hour crying on my mom’s
shoulder. As the news got out, family and friends showed their support by
coming over to our house to pray. The situation was bad, but it was about to
the police told us that the Amish woman had needed life support to stay alive,
but since the Amish don't believe in life support, she died in the hospital.
The Amish lady, he told us, was the man’s wife. Even worse, she was his new
bride, and they were on their honeymoon. They had been married for 5 days; he
was 21 years old, she was 19. Their wedding bliss was ruined. She was dead, and
I had killed her. It was the worst day of my life.
evening, my parents decided we would attend the viewing. Nervous pain ripped my
gut, and wild scenarios played out in my mind. Would these people come pouring
out of their house with shotguns aimed at me? When we arrived at the farm, we
saw Amish buggies parked all over the place, heightening my fear.
moment came to enter the house. The young woman’s parents met us in the front
room and wrapped their arms around me. Through tears I muttered how sorry I
was, and they spoke the most incredible words to me, “We forgive you, we know
it was God's time for her to die.” Then they went even further—they invited us
over for dinner!
room the husband, Aaron Stoltzfus, stood beside the open casket of his wife,
Sarah. Aaron, too, came to me with open arms.
“How can I
ever repay you?” I said.
forgave me. As we hugged, the freedom of forgiveness swept through me.
had us over for dinner that next month, and never once showed any kind of
resentment. On the contrary, it was the beginning of a meaningful relationship.
In their forgiveness, they opened their home and hearts to us!
minor, I was charged with vehicular homicide, which meant I would lose my
driver’s license for three years, pay court costs, and be on probation until I
completed 200 hours of community service.
To me, with
Sarah’s life gone because of my actions, it was an extremely lenient sentence.
To the Stoltzfuses, it served as another instance to demonstrate forgiveness.
They wrote letters to the judge asking for my pardon! Because of the severity
of the crime, however, the judge gave me the complete sentence which I served
of forgiveness requires follow-up, restoring a broken relationship or creating
a new one, no matter how difficult. Our relationship with the Stoltzfus family
continues to grow. We’ve visited every year near the anniversary of the
My wife and I
even invited them to our wedding and they came.Only five years earlier I shattered their hopes and dreams, yet they
joined us in celebrating ours.
Stoltzfuses have taught me that forgiveness is not always a one-time event, but
ongoing. Through their consistent forgiveness, I now understand what Jesus
meant when He said we should forgive others “seventy times seven” (Matthew
You can read Joel's complete & powerful story here.
Joel and his wife Michelle started at Faith Church in
October 2002, and he became senior pastor in July 2008. Joel graduated from
Lancaster Bible College and Evangelical Theological
Seminary. Prior to coming to Faith Church as Youth/Associate Pastor, they served one
year as church-planting missionaries in Kingston, Jamaica. They are the parents
of four children. In his free time, Joel will probably be reading a
book, listening to U2 or REM, playing sports or Legos with his kids, enjoying a
movie with Michelle or rooting for the Phillies or Redskins! More likely you'll
find Michelle and Joel talking about God's heart for the oppressed and how Americans can live the Gospel. They are so excited about how Faith Church is
becoming a church that beats after God's heart, removing the chains of
injustice, freeing the captives, preaching the good news, feeding the poor,
discipling the believers, praying for the world.
This site is a collection of real stories by real people about The Rock in their hard places.
It is curated and edited by Kara Ranck, who is a wife and mother of two children living in Pennsylvania. Kara herself has traveled some hard places in life and knows there is hope and power when we tell our personal stories about The Rock, which brings us through. Thank you for joining us here!
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