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'I Forgive This Man! Hate Will Not Win': A Grandfather's Powerful and Poignant Words after the Murder of His 7-Year-Old Granddaughter

Shelby Bowen : Dec 6, 2022  Charisma News

"...I hope my family will understand that I don't do this for the sake of this man. I do this for the sake of my family and myself and to Honor the voice of God who is giving me the strength to say this. I do this to honor our precious Athena who knew no hate..." -Mark Strand

airlift[CharismaNews.com] The body of 7-year-old Athena Strand was found less than 10 miles from her father's home where she was abducted in Wise County, Texas last Wednesday. The community is mourning her tragic death and her grandfather Mark Strand took to Facebook to share a message that has now gone viral. (Image: Athena/Maitlyn Presley Gandy Facebook)

In the post, Strand proclaims his forgiveness for 30-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, the contract FedEx driver who is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in Athena's death.

"A friend just asked me the other day if I believe God speaks to people? I happen to know He does, as He is speaking to me now," the post reads

Mark Strand's post has garnered over 20,000 shares on Facebook and thousands of comments after Athena's body was found by authorities Dec. 2. In his moment of great despair, he reveals the war between his spirit and his flesh. Strand says his flesh would like to see Horner burn in Hell for eternity and wishes he had five minutes alone with him, but the Holy Spirit is whispering something else to him.

"That gentle voice is the Holy Spirit of God speaking to me right now. He's reminding me that my savior Jesus, willingly laid Himself on a cross and died in my place to reconcile me to God the Father, but also that He did that for all of us, even this man that my flesh so hates at this very moment," he says.

In a time of weariness and deep grief, Strand paints the picture of how we are to respond to one another—even in the worst of circumstances.

Leviticus 19:17-18 says, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely reason honestly with your neighbor, and not suffer sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."

As hard it is to not take vengeance and justice into our own hands, Strand knows the purpose is to find peace and not allow our hearts to be hardened to the voice of God.

"If I allow this hate to consume me, that voice will fade and eventually be silenced," and finishing the post he says, "My spirit has heard God's voice and right now, while tears flood my eyes, I declare publicly that I forgive this man! Hate will not win."

Authorities have not yet released the official autopsy and cause of death. "It hurts our hearts that child died, so much so that she is on her way now to the medical examiner's office and there's a Texas Ranger in front of her and there's a Texas Ranger behind her. This community does not like losing our children," Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said during a press conference.

Shelby Bowen is an assistant editor for Charisma Media.

Below is Mark Strand's full public Facebook post from Saturday Dec 3: 

I can't quiet my mind and I have to share this. A friend just asked me the other day if I believe God speaks to people? I happen to know He does, as He is speaking to me now. This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there's a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him. This flesh man, wants that psycho to burn in Hell for all eternity, yet that gentle voice continues to tell me, I need to forgive him. This flesh man hopes he remains blind and deaf to the message of salvation and never sets foot in the same Heaven that I know in my heart my darling Athena resides in now and yet, that gentle voice persists. Why you ask? Because Hate is a powerful force that will take root in your soul. God wants to protect us all from that hate. Hate is the gateway for the Evil we see growing in the world today. If you stood that man before me right now, because of the hate that's trying to root itself in my mind, I would probably kill him. Then that hate would root itself in my heart and I would be destroyed. That gentle voice is the Holy Spirit of God speaking to me right now. He's reminding me that my Savior Jesus, willingly laid Himself on a cross and died in my place to reconcile me to God the Father, but also that He did that for All of Us, even this man that my flesh so Hates at this very moment. I am a sinful man, yet I've heard this voice before and I miss hearing this voice. If I allow this hate to consume me, that voice will fade and eventually be silenced. Then that ugly spirit of hate will have succeeded and that's why this gentle voice persists to tell me I need to forgive this man. It's for my protection and my peace. It's to set me free from this hate and allow me to continue to hear God's gentle voice. There's not one ounce of my flesh that wants to do this or say this, but my spirit has heard God's voice and right now, while tears flood my eyes, I declare publicly that I forgive this man! Hate will not win. I hope my family will understand that I don't do this for the sake of this man. I do this for the sake of my family and myself and to Honor the voice of God who is giving me the strength to say this. I do this to honor our precious Athena who knew no hate. This man won't be allowed any real estate to live in my brain, he belongs to God and God's justice will [be] done. Love Conquers All and Forgives. Today, I choose Love and hate loses. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here







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