The grandfather of a little girl who was abducted and murdered last week has published a heartbreaking Facebook post offering forgiveness to the purported perpetrator.
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“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,” Mark Strand wrote. “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.”
He continued, “But there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him.”
Strand is the grandfather of Athena Strand, a 7-year-old whose remains were found Dec. 2 after she went missing from her dad’s Texas home two days earlier.
Tanner Lynn Horner, a 30-year-old FedEx driver, is accused of killing the little girl and is held on $1.5 million bond, according to Fox News.
The grieving grandpa continued in his heartfelt post to juxtapose the flurry of emotions he feels as a man with the spiritual response he’s called to have as a faithful individual.
“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,” Strand continued. “And yet, that gentle voice persists. Why, you ask? Because Hate is a powerful force that will take root in your soul.”
He went on to say God wants to protect people from hate, calling it a “gateway for evil” in the world today. Then, Strand clearly explained who that “soft gentle voice” is in his heart and mind.
“That gentle voice is the Holy Spirit of God speaking to me right now,” he wrote. “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.”
Strand wrote he’s fully aware of what will happen if he refuses to listen to that voice and forgive; he knows forgiveness is for his own “protection and … peace.” Pushing past the hurt and pain, Strand concluded his post by publicly forgiving the accused.
“Hate will not win. I hope my family will understand that I don’t do this for the sake of this man,” he wrote. “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.”
Read the post in its entirety here.
Athena’s life continues to be mourned by friends and loved ones throughout Wise County, Texas, and beyond. Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin claims Horner confessed to the killing and that it allegedly unfolded within an hour of her abduction Wednesday evening.
Continue to pray for the family and all those impacted.
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