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'I Forgive You': Widow and Congregants of Pastor Killed by Drunk Driver Shock Judge, Move Prosecutor to Tears


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Family members and congregants of deceased Minnesota Pastor Verlyn Strenge openly forgave the man responsible for the late preacher’s death during a Nov. 24, hearing, shocking a judge and moving a prosecutor to tears.

“We forgive you,” Jayme Nelson, Strenge’s daughter, said to David Nelson, the man who crashed his truck into her father’s car last year.

Nelson was reportedly going nearly 70 mph and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.267 — three times the legal limit. He will be heading to state prison for three years after being found guilty of vehicular homicide.

“As hard as it was at first, we want you to know that we have been praying for you for the past year because we know your life has been impacted by the biggest mistake of your life,” Jayme Nelson continued.

The kindness and compassion didn’t end there, according to

Rick Moore, a member of the First Baptist Church, where Strenge preached, said he and others at the church had been “forgiven so much” and proclaimed, “How could we not forgive you?”

These words were also met with actions, as Strenge’s family — including his widow and children — later walked up to Nelson, gave him a hug, and affirmed their forgiveness.

Watch these touching moments unfold:

“I forgive you, David,” Strenge’s widow, Merry Gale, said while embracing Nelson. “Please forgive yourself.”

Strenge’s daughter also offered a heartfelt promise: “I’ll be praying for you and your family.”

To underscore how remarkable and rare these actions are, especially in cases such as this, County Attorney Katy Lorsbach was reportedly moved to tears and Judge Eric Schieferdecker said he had never seen anything like it.

Strenge, who was 69 years old when he died Dec. 6, 2020, was a longtime preacher at First Baptist Church. According to his obituary, his “life goal was to share the love of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone.”

“Verlyn was a devoted student to the teachings of the Bible,” the obituary continued. “He read through the Bible at least six times every single year and committed many verses to memory. His love of Christ helped lift up countless communities and people in need.”

Please continue to pray for Strenge’s family and for Nelson and his loved ones. This act of forgiveness is deeply powerful and sends an important message about the transformational nature of the Gospel.

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.