One of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s victims offered a passionate courtroom plea for him to accept Jesus and to transform his heart just before he was sentenced on Wednesday for up to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls.
Rachael Denhollander, a gymnast who became the first victim to publicly accuse Nassar, also became the last victim to deliver a statement in court before his sentencing — and her powerful words about Christ and the gospel offered a tear-jerking realization of the intense power and sway that God’s love has over the human heart.
Denhollander, who offered Nassar her forgiveness, also spoke about the emotional and physical toll she faced in sharing her story and in going to authorities in an effort to see Nassar be brought to justice, as Christian Headlines noted.
“I did it because it was right,” she said, speaking directly to the disgraced former doctor. “No matter the cost, it was right.”
But from there she launched into a heartfelt appeal aimed at saving Nassar’s soul, while also holding him accountable for his horrific actions. Denhollander pointed to the doctor’s use of a Bible in the courtroom as a foray into her stunning spiritual monologue.
“You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices over and over again to feed that selfishness and perversion,” Denhollander said. “You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.”
From there, Denhollander turned to the central gospel message, noting that the New Testament describes a sacrificial God who loves humanity unconditionally — and who sent a savior to prove it.
“If you have read the Bible you carry you know that the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin that he did not commit,” she said. “By his grace I too choose to love this way.”
Watch Denhollander’s amazing gospel presentation at the 25-minute mark below (caution: testimony contains difficult content):
Denhollander said that forgiveness doesn’t come from doing good deeds to erase the bad, explaining that it requires true repentance and an embrace of the truth of one’s horrific or sinful actions. From there, she appealed to Matthew 18:6 and quoted Jesus’ words about the damnation that follows those who harm children.
“The Bible says it is better for a millstone to be thrown around your neck and you thrown into a lake than make even one child stumble — and you have damaged hundreds,” she said. “The Bible you speak carries a final judgement where all of God’s wrath and its eternal terror is poured out on men like you.”
But these words weren’t uttered in an effort to merely condemn Nassar, as Denhollander used this verse to speak the most stunning truths about the power of the gospel and to note that Nassar will one day “face crushing guilt” if he finally comes to repentance.
“And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet, because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found,” she said. “And it will be there for you.”
Denhollander said that Nassar needs true forgiveness from God more than anything else, but that she, too, extends her forgiveness to him. It was a profound and moment that left Nassar with plenty to think about.
As Faithwire previously reported, another victim, Jennifer Rood Bedford, a former volleyball player at Michigan State, also got emotional this week as she shared her horrific experience with the court. But in addition to her heartbreaking testimony, she also offered Nassar forgiveness. Check out that powerful moment here.