When Alabama pastor Mark Wyatt discovered that one of the members of his congregation had been arrested for having sex with her 14-year-old student, he said that he decided to ensure that the church remained a place where the former high school teacher felt loved no matter the verdict.
"We decided then and there that the degree of guilt and innocence would not be a deciding factor in how much we loved her," Wyatt, who pastors Deeper Life Fellowship, said in a video released last week.
Last Friday, Alicia Gray, 28, plead guilty to charges of second-degree sodomy, second-degree sexual abuse and being a school employee who has had sexual contact with a student younger than 19, after she was charged last February.
As part of a plea deal, Gray was sentenced to six months in jail and had to relinquish her teaching certificate, reported AL.com. She will also have to register as a sex offender.
Wyatt helped Gray create the video because he wanted to give her the opportunity to speak on how she had seen God work in her life.
In the video the former teacher asked for forgiveness for her "selfishness."
"I acted out of my own insecurities without thought and concern or anyone else's feelings," she said.
"I had pain in my own heart and a void that I thought I needed to fill through attention and all kinds of other things and that void was just needing Jesus," she added.
Gray said that she had felt her faith had helped her better understand where her true identity lay.
"I'm so thankful God has changed me and shown me my identity in Jesus Christ where I won't make the same selfish decisions and hurt other people," said Gray. ... [Moreover] because of my changed identity I don't have to be ashamed of who I am.
Gray asked for forgiveness from the sexual abuse victim, family members and "anyone else I hurt," and said that she was trusting that God could still redeem the situation.
"[I believe He can] take this situation that should have never ever happened and provide healing and rest in anyone who has been hurt," she said.
Wyatt, who hugged Gray in the last moments of the film, said that he believes that the situation had helped the woman better understand more fully how God saw her.
"Over the last 11 months, Alecia has had her identity redefined by the fact that she is a daughter of God and fully loved for who she is," he said.
Gray will begin her sentence at Mobile County Metro Jail on Friday.