Sexual abuse victim preaches gospel at sentencing

It’s the best sermon I’ve heard in a long time. The truth and weight of her words were astounding.

Rachael Denhollander was one of the many victims of former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. His abuse of Denhollander started in 2000 when she was 15. Today, Denhollander is a lawyer, and was the first of his victims to come forward with his abuses.

Yesterday, she was the final person to speak at Nassar’s sentencing.

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 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.

The quote continues and is just as powerful going forward. Watch the video for the rest.

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Her words remind me of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. In them, there’s grief over this man’s sin, not hatred. There’s the knowledge that he could have gone a different route and prospered and had joy, but how that is lost. But despite that loss, there is still the future hope of salvation through the gospel. Not because we’re good but because Jesus is that good and the gospel is that wonderful.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:3-10

I’m glad that this man is going to prison and can no longer prey on young girls. Unfortunately there were women who had come forward about his behavior years before and who were never taken seriously. Who knows how many could have been spared if the proper steps had been initially taken.