On January 4th I wrote an article about the continuing impact of Pete McCreary’s life after his death in a tragic motorcycle accident last summer. In that article, I mentioned that so far, seven people have been restored to Christ citing Pete’s death as a major motivation for their return to God.
Today, I want to share another extraordinary moment, and another example of how God continues to use Pete’s life as a light in this world. On March 26th, the pleading and sentencing of the man who was the cause of the accident which took Pete’s life was held. In many ways it was a typical day in court as various defendants approached the bench for various reasons. The courtroom was full of inmates and defendants, police and sheriffs, courtroom personnel, witnesses and observers. Numerous cases were called and as often is the case, the resolution was quickly over.
Then the case of the defendant in the McCreary accident was called. The defendant pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide. Before the judge passed sentence, several family members and friends were given the opportunity to share about Pete and how he was dearly missed. One by one his wife, Judy, his daughter Allie, the manager of his business, his friend Andy, and his brother Scott all shared. The eyes of everyone in the courtroom filled with tears as they heard the stories of this amazing man. Even the inmates present were brought to tears. The sharing of loss was powerful but what stood out to me the most was when Pete’s brother Scott (who was restored to the faith this past December) shared about Pete and then turned to the defendant just a few feet away and said,“ I want you to know that I forgive you. And if my brother was here, he would forgive you too.”
After all the sharing the judge was so moved that he ordered a recess, in part, I believe, to compose himself. When he returned, he gave the sentence to the defendant and then told him to think about the exemplary life of the man whose life he took, and to dedicate himself to be that kind of man. The judge then addressed the entire courtroom and implored all present to also consider Pete’s life, to imitate him, “to pay it forward.” The judge himself proclaimed that he would strive to be a better man, husband, and father. As family and friends left the courtroom, the defendant stood alone in the lobby of the courthouse. One by one, Pete McCreary’s daughters approached him, spoke with him, comforted him, and hugged him, sharing their forgiveness with him.
The power of forgiveness was real and palpable, and moved hearts on March 26 in a Cincinnati courtroom.