Not long ago I had the chance to go to an outdoor music festival in Chattanooga. It was there at JFest that I met an incredible couple, Tiki and Tom Finlayson, with a powerful story to tell.
On July 31, 2011, a young man was hit head on by a drunk driver. On July 1 Kevin “Sunshine” Yates died from the injuries he received in the crash. The tragic loss of a son could have driven his parents crazy, but instead of living with hate and bitterness, they decided to do something radical – the decided to forgive.
I would encourage you to go check out the website for 1N3, the ministry that Kevin’s mother and brother (Derek Yates) founded to increase awareness of the tragedy of drunk driving. There you can read the whole story of what happened, about Kevin, and about the lives that have been saved through organ donation. But for now, I would just like to share with you what Tom, Kevin’s dad, told me as we stood looking at the van Kevin was driving.
“Who Am I…?”
I know people who have a hard time forgiving others for wrongs done. Others I know have a hard time getting past the death of a loved one; always grieving, always mourning the loss. The Yates and Finlaysons are not that way. All it takes is one look at the smiles on their faces to see that hope and love have drowned hate and bitterness.
As we stood there talking, Tom Finlayson told me how that they had truly forgiven the lady that had hit Kevin. As a matter of fact, they have reached out to help her. Believe it or not, she is even scheduled to help in their ministry upon her release from prison.
Tom told me, “You know, we’re all murderers…we are all responsible for the death of God’s Son, Jesus…we killed Him…and if God can forgive me for killing his Son, then who am I not to forgive her?”
What more is there to say?
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32