A Friendship Forged In Forgiveness - Erik Fitzgerald and Matthew Swatzell's Story
Erik Fitzgerald was preparing to be a new dad when his world changed in an instant.
Erik, a Georgia youth pastor, was awakened one morning in October 2006 with the news that his wife's car was struck head-on by a firefighter who fell asleep at the wheel driving home at the end of a 24-hour shift.
His wife, June, died instantly, along with her unborn child. Faith, his then-19-month-old daughter, survived the crash.
Amid the grief, Erik, recognized a God-given opportunity to practice the forgiveness at the heart of the message of Jesus he preached. Erik pleaded for lenient sentencing so Matt could avoid prison time, and he ended up with only community service and a fine.
Not long afterwards, Matt and Erik met by chance in a grocery store parking lot and began to talk - a circumstance both saw as God-ordained. That led to a friendship that continues to this day.
They credit their conversations as the key to letting them heal from the loss and pain.
The story, shot in 2011, was featured on NBC's Today Show in 2014 after it picked up 3.5 million views on the Web. You can read Today's updated account of Matthew and Erik's story to see how Jesus has continued to bless their lives.