Community shaken by 7-year-old' Athena Strand's killing
Pastor Charles Pugh of First Baptist Cottondale was brought to tears early Saturday morning when he showed up to his church to see a tiara dropped off by a stranger for killed 7-year-old Athena Strand.
The grandfather of Athena Strand, the WISE COUNTY, Texas - 7-year-old girl killed after being abducted from her home on Wednesday, says he forgives the man responsible for his granddaughter's death.
Tanner Lynn Horner is facing capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges in connection to Athena's death. Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin says Horner confessed while being questioned by police.
READ MORE: Athena Strand found dead after being kidnapped by delivery driver: Wise County sheriff
On Saturday, one day after Athena's body was found, Mark Strand
posted his thoughts on his loss and his journey to forgiving Horner.
"This man I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there's a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him," Strand writes.
Strand goes on to say he believes that voice is God.
"If I allow this hate to consume me, that voice will fade and eventually be silenced. Then that ugly spirit of hate will have succeeded and that’s why this gentle voice persists to tell me I need to forgive this man," he writes.
Leaning on his faith, Strand eventually says he forgives Horner.
READ MORE: What we know about Tanner Horner, the delivery driver who confessed to killing Athena Strand
"There’s not one ounce of my flesh that wants to do this or say this, but my spirit has heard God’s voice and right now, while tears flood my eyes, I declare publicly that I forgive this man!" said Strand.
Read the full post here:
I can’t quiet my mind and I have to share this. A friend just asked me the other day if I believe God speaks to people? I happen to know He does, as He is speaking to me now. This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him. This flesh man, wants that psycho to burn in hell for all eternity, yet that gentle voice continues to tell me, I need to forgive him. This flesh man hopes he remains blind and deaf to the message of salvation and never sets foot in the same heaven that I know in my heart my darling Athena resides in now and yet, that gentle voice persists. Why you ask? Because Hate is a powerful force that will take root in your soul. God wants to protect us all from that hate. Hate is the gateway for the Evil we see growing in the world today. If you stood that man before me right now, because of the hate that’s trying to root itself in my mind, I would probably kill him. Then that hate would root itself in my heart and I would be destroyed. That gentle voice is the Holy Spirit of God speaking to me right now. He’s reminding me that my savior Jesus, willingly laid Himself on a cross and died in my place to reconcile me to God the Father, but also that He did that for All of Us, even this man that my flesh so Hates at this very moment. I am a sinful man, yet I’ve heard this voice before and I miss hearing this voice. If I allow this hate to consume me, that voice will fade and eventually be silenced. Then that ugly spirit of hate will have succeeded and that’s why this gentle voice persists to tell me I need to forgive this man. It’s for my protection and my peace. It’s to set me free from this hate and allow me to continue to hear God’s gentle voice. There’s not one ounce of my flesh that wants to do this or say this, but my spirit has heard God’s voice and right now, while tears flood my eyes, I declare publicly that I forgive this man! Hate will not win. I hope my family will understand that I don’t do this for the sake of this man. I do this for the sake of my family and myself and to Honor the voice of God who is giving me the strength to say this. I do this to honor our precious Athena who knew no hate. This man won’t be allowed any real estate to live in my brain, he belongs to God and God’s justice will done. Love Conquers All and Forgives. Today, I choose Love and hate loses.
Wise County officials are
asking the community to wear Athena's favorite color, pink, on Monday.
number of events have been scheduled to remember Athena early this week.