Emily was out jogging when her worst fears became reality.
“I saw a man coming towards me on the other side of the street,” remembers Emily. “He ran across the street and grabbed me and sprayed pepper spray in my face and dragged me across the street to where his car was parked in the woods and threw me into the trunk of his car. This is my worst fear and it’s happening to me right now.”
She was trapped in darkness as the man drove around planning his next move.
“I felt around and I found a roll of duct tape, and a screw driver and handcuffs and so I thought at that time for sure I was going to be killed,” recalls Emily. “In the back of my mind though I had all these regrets thinking I haven’t been married yet, I want to have kids you know all these regrets that my life is too short.”
To calm herself she sang songs she learned at church as a young girl.
“I sang some different hymns that I knew and I did feel that God’s presence was with me, he comforted me, his peace was there in the trunk of the car and kept me alive,” says Emily. “And the man who was driving the car must have been convicted because he turned the radio on and turned it way up to drown out the sound of me singing and praying.”
An hour later, the car came to a stop and the trunk opened. Emily tried to make her escape.
“I was able to scratch his face but he grabbed me and threw me to the ground and pinned me to the ground,” remembers Emily. “And at that point I looked at him and I said, ‘Are you working for the Devil?’ and he looked at me funny and said ‘No.’ and I said, ‘well, God is with me.’”
Emily was thrown back in the trunk and tied up. Forty-five minutes later they stopped again at a house.
“He brought me to an upstairs room in the house and handcuffed my hands to a bar that was near the floor and there he brutally raped me,” recalls Emily. “ (He) threatened my life and threatened my family’s life and that sort of thing if I told anybody what he had done.”
When it was over she was placed in the back seat of his car. Her attacker made a strange request. He asked her to sing.
“I began singing Amazing Grace in the car and I really feel this was God that gave me that song to sing because not only did this man, who had just done this horrible thing to me needed God’s grace and he could be saved if he received God’s grace but also, I needed God’s grace just as much even though I’d grown up in Christian Schools and grown up in church,” says Emily. “I didn’t yet have that relationship with the Lord, I hadn’t yet received that grace so I needed it just as much as this man who had done this horrible thing.”
She was left in a parking lot near her college and called the police. Her attacker was arrested the next day, but Emily was left with deep scars.
“I was physically hurting, I was emotionally hurting,” says Emily. “I was angry for sure, at the man who had done this and angry at all the things I had to go through to heal up. Angry at the whole situation that it had happened.”
A friend told Emily that God loved her and wanted to heal her.
“I was able to understand that that Jesus gave everything,” says Emily. “He gave his life for me because he loves me so much and he offers it to me and if I just take it and open that gift I can have eternal life. So I just prayed a very simple prayer, ‘Lord I do want to serve you with my life, I want to love you with all that I am, I receive you into my heart, I want my heart to be fully yours. ’ And immediately the word became alive for me like it never had before. I heard Him say ‘I’m going to work this out for good.’ I began looking for good things to come out of this.”
Emily continues, “I felt the Lord wanted me to forgive the man who had raped me He reminded me of Jesus on the cross when he said ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ So I spoke it out loud, ‘I choose to forgive this man,’ and I said his name, ‘Father I want you to forgive him because he doesn’t know what he’s done and I ask you to bring him to his knees in repentance before you.’ After that I began praying for him often, for his salvation and that was a huge step in my healing, my forgiving him, because very quickly the anger started going away and the pain of the situation started to leave as well.
only God can do that, only He can do that.”
Her attacker was given a maximum sentence of 30 years for his actions. Her words ‘are you working for the devil,’ and songs of Amazing Grace were constantly on his mind then. Two years into his sentence, he asked God to forgive his sins and make him new. Emily found out through a news reporter covering inmates at the penitentiary.
“He gave his heart to the Lord,” says Emily. “(He) asked Jesus to be his savior and now he ministers to other inmates in prison and when I heard that on the phone from this reporter I jumped up and down praising God in my kitchen I still can see it and I was so excited that my prayers had been answered.”
“Forgiveness sets people free, sets the forgiver free,” says Emily. “But it also allows God to work on the heart of the one who’s being forgiven. God helped me to forgive instead of holding bitterness and hatred towards this person. It’s just a beautiful picture of his grace that no one is ever beyond the reach of his love and his grace no matter what they’ve done.”