In a remarkable act reflective of his Christian faith, a pastor named Darrin Ray forgave the outstanding $2.5 million debt of the drunk driver who hit him, resulting in the amputation of his right leg.
Born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, Ray’s childhood wasn’t easy; he was constantly bullied and his self esteem was low. He spent a lot of time in hospital beds, undergoing corrective surgeries. So when Ray was struck by a drunk driver in 2006, going to the hospital for more surgery felt familiar.
Terrified he wouldn’t survive, or that he’d never have any quality of life again, Ray recalled thinking, “I wanted him to suffer like he made me suffer, like he made my family suffer.”
The driver hit Ray and his daughter as they were driving to church in August 2006. The drunk man drove his car across the center line, striking them head-on at 60 mph. Ray’s daughter, thankfully, escaped with just scratches. But Ray was trapped in the car with numerous broken bones, intense bleeding, and burns from the car’s dripping battery acid.
When paramedics arrived, they extracted him with the “jaws of life.” Ray was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he remained for weeks and eventually lost his right leg.
Ray, now a pastor for senior adults and the disabled, explained in a recently uploaded “I Am Second” interview that it wasn’t until he saw the driver in the courtroom that he turned away from his anger and bitterness.
Seeing him there, Ray recalled, “softened my heart.” He surprised the judge by asking him to forgive the outstanding debt against the driver.
“The judge looked at me and said, ‘Why do you want to forgive this man that debt?’” he said. “And I looked at that judge, and I told him, ‘Because I have a savior that forgave me. He paid my debts that I could never repay.”
What he received instead, the pastor said, is much better.
“When I forgave that man,” said Ray, “I was instantly freed from bitterness and anger. When you truly think about how much Christ has forgiven you, it helps you to forgive others who have wronged you. Now, I’m able to walk in freedom and wholeness.”