One in five women, at some point of their lives, have been sexually assaulted. For the victims, it isn’t an easy road. The pain and scars of such an experience remain fresh in their hearts making them feel like a piece of them has been taken forever. Thankfully, this is not the case for former gymnast Racheal Denhollander. Just like any other sexual assault victims, Rachael has a horrible memory.
Sixteen years ago, she was sexually assaulted by her Team USA gymnastics doctor at Michigan State University clinic. It wasn’t only her, many other girls were also maliciously abused by this man.
Today Rachael dauntlessly faced her abuser, Larry Nasser, head on in court. She was given 40 minutes to speak to the court as a witness to Larry’s unjust doing.
What’s more astounding is that instead of giving a speech that would give an account of the man’s crime, she took the opportunity to preach the gospel to this man. She enlightened him with the truth of sin that leads to destruction and that the grace of God in Jesus Christ is willing to embrace him if he sincerely repents.
Rachael’s perplexing response clearly displays the healing God gave her towards the man who sinned against her, offering him the eternal gift not everyone would be willing to do.
Here is an excerpt from her speech:
“You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. 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.
In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know 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 he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.
You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.
If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.
The Bible you speak of carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well.”
Rachael also added a tear-jerking message to the man about pitying him for failing to experience the things that matter most in life—good things, true love, and pure joy.
“In losing the ability to call evil what it is without mitigation, without minimization, you have lost the ability to define and enjoy love and goodness. You have fashioned for yourself a prison that is far, far worse than any I could ever put you in, and I pity you for that,” Rachael said.
You can fast forward the video to 25:40 for the most powerful part of her speech. God is amazing!