A North Carolina pastor whose two baby sons died in a car accident on May 23 told mourners at their funeral that he and his wife have forgiven the driver of the truck that rear-ended the family’s car near Wilmington.
As previously reported by The Christian Post, pastor Gentry Eddings of Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, his 8-months-pregnant wife, Hadley, and their 2-year-old son, Dobbs, were travelling on their way home in two separate cars when a box truck struck the car carrying Hadley and Dobbs.
Dobbs died in the accident, while Hadley was rushed to a nearby hospital where an emergency C-section was performed in hopes of saving Eddings’ unborn child. The newborn baby, who they named Reed, survived only two days before Forest Hill Church announced last Monday that he had died.
The driver of the truck has been identified as 28-year-old Matthew Deans who was charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and a count of failure to reduce speed.
The Charlotte Observer reports that as people gathered on Sunday for the two children’s funeral, Gentry Eddings said he prefered to think of the event as a “celebration” of his sons’ lives. Additionally, Eddings offered forgiveness to Deans, who cost the Eddings to lose their two most precious gifts in this world.
“We have, in our hearts, forgiven the man who did this,” Eddings proclaimed. “It was not the easiest thing to do, but in some ways it was because we know — Hadley and I — that Jesus Christ has forgiven us our debt. … So in some ways, it was very easy to forgive a man who made an accident.”
Although the Eddings only had two days to spend with their son, Reed, before he died, Eddings assured at the mourners that they “were able to spend precious moments with him.”
“[We were] holding him in our arms before he went to be with his brother in heaven,” Eddings added.
Eddings also explained that he was able to share the Gospel with Dobbs by teaching him the words of Psalm 46: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Although Eddings would frequently try to get Dobbs to recite the Psalm, he explained that Dobbs was always too shy to do so. However, Dobbs would finally recite the Psalm on the day before his fatal accident.
“It was then that Dobbs’ sweet voice spoke up with a timely reminder,” Eddings said. “He said, ‘Be still. And know that I am God.'”
A member of the Forest Hill congregation set up an online crowd funding page to help support the Eddings in their time of grief and sorrow. Although the goal for the webpage was to raise $150,000, as of Wednesday morning, supporters donated over $194,000 in nine days.
To show the Eddings how much they are loved and supported by their local community, the church’s senior pastor David Chadwick, who presided over the funeral, asked the Eddings to come to the altar and face the crowd to see just how many people showed up to support them, which reportedly sparked a huge crowd ovation.
“We will stand with you,” Chadwick told the Eddings. “We will lift you up in our prayers. We will hug you when we see you. We will walk with you through the grief.”
“I believe, Gentry and Hadley, with all my heart, that you’ll see your boys again,” Chadwick continued. “I believe … that Reed and Dobbs Eddings have never been more alive than they are right now.”