A man who lost his wife and two daughters in the horrific Gatlinburg wildfires took to social media with a strong message for the two teens responsible for their outbreak.
He’s decided to forgive them for their actions.
Michael Reed the father of four and husband to Constance Reed is still grieving his losses which include his wife and two daughters Lily and Chloe.
In an open letter addressed to the boys after the widow learned about the duo being arrested, Reed released a statement which focused on forgiveness, which is rooted in his Christian faith.
“We will pray for you. Every day. We will pray for your parents and your family members. Every day. We will pray for your peace. We will show you grace. Why? Because that’s what Jesus would do.”
At beginning of the piece, the man in mourning stated that, “As humans it is sometimes hard to show grace. We hold grudges. We stay angry. We point the finger and feel we have to lay the blame somewhere. It’s human nature and completely understandable. But I did not raise my children to live with hate. I did not teach my girls or my son to point the finger at others. John 8:7 says, ‘Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.'”
“Forgiveness isn’t for you. It is for me. It is for my son. It is for Constance, Chloe and Lily. It is for this community who all lost so much in this tragedy.”
In a follow up to the letter, Reed told local station ABC 13 that his letter was based on the fact that, “I have raised (my kids) to be forgiving, courteous and respectful. If this was flipped and I had passed away, I wouldn’t want them to hold a grudge – to be resentful and angry.”
“I always told Constance you can never appreciate heaven until you have been through hell because you have nothing to compare it to,” Reed said.
Adding, “If you live your whole life holding a grudge against everybody who has ever hurt you, then you will be lonely the rest of your life. The true definition of a Christian is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. I hurt and I can be angry with them. This is not how our life was supposed to be. But if Jesus has forgiven me and my neighbors for our sins, I have to follow in his footsteps.”
During the first hours of the wildfires in December, Reed went to the media to help find his daughters and wife. At the time, he shared photographs of his missing family members that he was desperate to find safe and sound.
“I am just hoping for a miracle,” he said during the search — but as the search pressed on, he never received the news he had hoped for about his loved ones.
The two teenagers can face up to 60 years in prison each for aggravated arson and possibly murder charges for the violent fire that spread far and wide through Tennessee, even approaching on the doors of Dollywood, a theme park named after singer Dolly Parton.