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Man Saved by Reckless Mistake

Blindsided by his parents' divorce, Nathan drowned his pain in alcohol. Drunk driving led to fatal accident, and Nathan's life took a dramatic change of course when the victim's family unexpectedly forgave him. Read Transcript

My dad sat down and looked at my sister and looked at me

and said, your mother and I are going to separate.

We're going to get a divorce.

And that blindsided me.

NARRATOR: At first, it didn't make sense

to 12-year-old Nathan Harmon why his parents divorced.

In his eyes, they were good Christians

who raised their family to love and trust God.

Later, the pieces started coming together.

I began to find out slowly that my dad struggled

with alcohol, my mom struggled with alcohol.

My dad had some struggles with some fidelity.

It broke me.

Because I thought our family was that cookie-cutter family

that was perfect.

I remember looking at them both and saying,

I will never be like you.

NARRATOR: Nathan felt his parents weren't the only ones

who had betrayed him.

NATHAN HARMON: I began to attach my emotion and the blame a lot

on God.

And so I got angry at God.

NARRATOR: He slowly turned away from church.

By my junior year, I was a full-blown alcoholic,

I'm smoking marijuana, I'm snorting cocaine,

I'm popping pills.

I want to feel loved.

I want to feel accepted.

I'm trying to feel hurts and pains.

And so instead of now leaning towards God and the youth

groups and the body of people around me that care,

those voids are still there.

And now I'm plugging it with alcohol.

And I'm plugging it with getting high.

NARRATOR: His senior year, Nathan

was expelled for skipping school and failing his classes.

Afterwards, he joined the Army trying to get a new start.

I was serious about changing my life.

That was the moment that I was like,

I want to come back from the Army.

I'm going to be different.

And I'm going to be a totally brand new man.

NARRATOR: But after boot camp, he fell back to his old habits

and was kicked out of the Army for drugs and going AWOL.

He stayed with friends and worked minimum-wage jobs,

spending his money on alcohol.

By now, he felt even God wouldn't want him.

I just began to really believe that I

had made too many mistakes and this is all

that life has for you now, was drugs, alcohol,

and nothingness.

There's a sense of hopelessness, you know?

NARRATOR: Then late one Friday, Nathan met up with a friend

at a bar.

And they decided to go to a party.

I was really drunk.

She had just showed up.

She was sober.

But the process from leaving the bar and getting into her Jeep,

somehow, I got the keys.

The next thing I remember was her just scream, tree.

And I looked right.

And I see her blond hair and her face.

And everything froze.

And I see her, like, that word, "tree."

And it was black.

I woke up then, and I was in a helicopter.

And it was windy.

And it was cold.

And I woke up in a hospital with police officers

over top of me asking me questions.

And I was asked, what's going on?

What's going on?

Because I'm clueless.

I'm-- my ankle's throbbing.

It's broken.

And they said, well, you were in a bad accident.

You hit a tree.

NARRATOR: Nathan asked about his friend, but got no answers.

By now, his mom was there and took him home with her.

The next morning, he went out to get the paper.

And I unroll it.

And I look at the headline.

And it says, "Crash, Victim Dies."

And my world just stops.


I mean, guilt. I can't even fathom,

here I sit, at 23, with the reality

that I'm responsible for killing somebody.

NARRATOR: A few days later, Nathan

heard that the woman's family asked him to contact them.

I didn't know what to expect.

How do you even begin to pick up a phone and call somebody

and say, I'm sorry?

But I did.

And they just, right away, just said,

Nathan, we just want you to know that there's

no reason that two lives and two families

are destroyed from one poor choice.

This family said, I forgive you.

I didn't deserve a family to forgive me.

If anything, I deserved to be the kid that got

what he thought he deserved.

I deserved them to hate me.

I deserved them to want me in prison for the rest of my life.

I deserved my life to be over.

And when that family just said, we forgive you--

and they meant it--

it messed my world up.

I couldn't explain it.

And I couldn't keep it hidden from God.

NARRATOR: Later, Nathan was arrested and charged

with reckless homicide.

He recalls his first night in jail,

the same night he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ.

I said, God, I have no idea what's ahead of me.

I have no idea how long I'm gonna be gone for.

But regardless if it's five years, 10 years, 20 years,

I need you in my life.

Forgive me.

And just the most unbelievable presence of God

seemed like it just filled up that cell.

And I had such a peace.

NARRATOR: Nathan signed a plea agreement for 15 years,

with five suspended.

From the start, he used his time behind bars to serve God.

I began to really just pursue everything that God had for me

and letting my life now be His life for him to use as that--

just to be his hands and feet, you know,

to teach people how to love, live, and look like Jesus,

to let people know there's hope.

NARRATOR: Nathan was released after just 2 and 1/2 years.

Today, he's a pastor and speaker sharing

how God's grace can free you from the burdens of your past.

No matter what I did, the plan would fail.

But I never got what I deserved.

And it was always that grace.

And it was always that mercy.

God was just after me.

It's what-- God's after all of us.

Jesus is just pursuing us, you know.


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