North Carolina Pastor and Wife Forgive Driver Who Killed Their Young Sons in Car Crash
A North Carolina community is grieving along with a young pastor and his wife after a truck driver slammed into their car, killing their 2-year-old son and newborn baby.
Gentry Eddings is a worship leader at Forest Hill Church in Ballantyne, a suburb of Charlotte.
On Sunday, more than 800 people filled his church for an emotional service filled with memories of a happy toddler who loved to dance and play the drums.
Gentry, 28, spent Memorial Day weekend presiding over his sister’s beachside wedding in Topsail, North Carolina. The pastor was on his way home to Charlotte with his wife Hadley, 27, and their son Dobbs, when they were involved in a four-car accident. Hadley was 37 weeks pregnant.
Hadley ended up having an emergency C-section, but the baby boy – named Reed – died just two days later.
“Hadley and Gentry are truly the strongest people I know, and it is beautiful to see them lean into each other and into Christ, Gentry’s sister Amber Justice tells PEOPLE. They are grieving, but grieving with hope – looking forward to the days when they will be reunited with their boys in heaven.”
Police say 28-year-old Matthew Deans of Wilmington, North Carolina, was driving a six-wheeled commercial box truck when he crashed into the couple’s car. He is charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle.
Gentry, who also suffered minor injuries in the crash, spoke to mourners, saying he and his wife have forgiven the truck driver and are relying on their faith to get through such a difficult time.
His sister told PEOPLE exclusively, “Forgiveness can be a tricky thing. But like my brother said during the service, forgiving the driver was easy and hard all at the same time. Hard because our natural inclination is to cling to the pain and hurt and even anger. Easy because we believe in a good God.
More than 6,000 people from around the world have left condolences and comments on a Facebook page the church created for the family, and as of Tuesday, almost $200,000 had been donated on a GoFundMe page for the family meant to help with medical expenses.
Gentry and Hadley are asking that the legacy of their sons inspire others to help transform the nation of Haiti and that donations go to Mission of Hope Haiti, an organization they have both worked with in the past.