Thanksgiving and Forgiveness - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

11/28/2002 - Lindale

Thanksgiving and Forgiveness

It's Thanksgiving morning at the Hill's house. A special time with friends. It would not seem that unusual except for how those gathered this Thanksgiving came together...

It was an August night three years ago, four people from the Calvary Commission ministry in Lindale were returning home from a prayer meeting. They were only blocks from their home.

"It was a night I will never forget," says Tina Hill, "the memory of it will forever be etched in my mind. It was chaotic, it was dark, full of uncertainty of exactly what happened..."

Tina Hill's husband, Tom, along with the three others had been hit by Michele Robinson. At the time a successful Lindale insurance agent, who that night, like others before, was driving home drunk.

"I...I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been an alcoholic for years," says Robinson. "I was driven by the things that I shouldn't have been driven by, success, money, material things....that's what motivated me."

Tom Hill was so badly injured he has spent the past three years in rehabilitation. Melissa Large, also in that car, continues to suffer serious problems from a brain injury. Everyone in that car that night had devoted their lives to full time ministry. But that did not prevent a question of faith.

"How could this happen and why did you choose us? We had so often prayed for protection and being in service to the lord and being in full time ministry," recalls Tina Hill, "how did these things take place and why did they take place, why this amount of suffering?"

Despite the horrible accident, Michele Robinson says she continued to drink.would continued to drink. She was eventually sentenced to prison. But shortly before her incarceration, Michele says she became a Christian. But it would take time in prison, for her to life to really change.

"I fought it tooth and nail," remembers Michele, "and I resisted the first six months I was locked up, but I finally accepted and surrendered and just let the Lord work on me, that's where I learned and got a whole lot of what I needed spiritually. "I am truly grateful I was incarcerated, the lessons that I learned for me it was a spiritual journey, it was nothing to do with rehabilitation. I had a spiritual disease but the Lord filled me why I was incarcerated and taught me some real valuable lessons about myself as well as him."

When Michele finished her prison term she wanted to meet the people whose lives she had almost taken. During those involved had again found strength in their faith. In fact they had prayed for Michele during her time in prison. But a face to face meeting would truly be a test of their faith.

"It was a test," says Tina Hill. "It was a test for Tom and I to examine, was the forgiveness real, was it easy to forgive her because she wasn't a part of our everyday lives, I didn't know her. Was the Blood of Jesus enough?"

In the days to come, Michele and Tina would not only meet they would become the best of friends. And on this Thanksgiving morning, Michele would finally get a chance to meet Melissa and Henry Large, also injured in the accident, who traveled from Minnesota for this special Holiday gathering.

Thanksgiving has never been like this for any of these people. Meeting through tragedy, but drawn together by faith, forgiveness and the power of prayer.

"A lot of times we go through things in life and we never really see the end result, say Tom Hill "We trust God that he is going to work it out. So its such a joy to see, to actually see tangibly what did take place. How God did work for the good. And how there are results and fruit that happened but that its going to be ongoing."

"When someone is able to do that," says Michele, "its just another layer of freedom, its just amazing... And for them to be able to forgive me I mean that's obvious God is working in their lives and that's something that I want."

"She's really precious to us," says Tom, "and I'm very happy that she is a part of our life and I'm really happy that she has a relationship with my wife that she does...that she's a friend a close friend words can't really say how good that feels."

"I believe god has so much more He wants to do with it. Things He wants to do in her life and our lives," says Tina. "And I just want more than anything to use every opportunity to perfect that which he started"

A true day of Thanksgiving for what has happened and what is to come.

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