Monday, June 05, 2006

I must confess that as I have prayed and contemplated Laura and Whitney's plight from Taylor University and that of their families, and the others who were in the van with them, my heart is broken. Clearly, they are the topic of conversations around world.

Many are discussing the details of their tragedy. Many are moved in inexpressible ways trying to comprehend how this occurred, and all the ramifications that each family are having to endure. Everything from insurance nightmares, to mourning losses, to the incredible joy in the realization (Whitney's family) that a child thought lost and buried was in fact, alive and fighting for survival.

Laura's family who have been so faithful in pointing others to Christ amid their unique circumstance have continued to do so, though they now find their situation has changed in an excrutiating way. They have ministered to so many around the world who do not know them, but see Christ as the Comforter in their storm! Their relationship with Him is alive, and vibrant! He is their peace, their balm, the mender of their rended hearts!!!

The time we would spend discussing their unbelievable journey will be better served praying for their families, Whitney's recovery, and the millions who are hearing about the love of Jesus because of the faithfulness of these same families!

I am guilty of overthinking their story, and discussing how I might have responded. Every parent rues the thought of this horrific situation, and we openly contemplate our own reactions, and how we might have known our own child, were it ours in their place.

None of us are truly prepared for tragedy when it overwhelms. None of us can imagine how we would truly handle the phone calls these families surely received in the moments after the accident.

Each of us needs take time with our families to notice details we may have missed before. Each of us needs to focus our attention and energy on our relationship with Christ, that if we were found suddenly in the highlight real of unsolicited attention, we would be found faithful (as they have been) and not bitter.

Bitterness comes easily. Faithfulness is a full time job. It requires daily dying to self. One does not handle extreme publicity in the face of tragedy with the panache and grace these families have unless they have first learned to deny themselves in the mundane experiences of life.

These were brothers and sisters in Christ, who were not expecting to see Jesus on the day they finally saw Him in all of His glory, yet they are home, celebrating that same Presence. They would not return to us for anything. The sum of life is not found in how long you live, the "toys" you amass, or what goals you have set and attained, but in glorifying Christ and Him alone!

"Well done thou good and faithful servant(s)!"

Praise God for the spared voice of Whitney. We have much to hear and learn from her! Let's unite in lifting her up in prayer!

brent (dad)

(This story is close to my heart as the father of two girls of similar age... Lauren and Whitney.)

Deanna and Lauren arrived safely on Saturday, and we are enjoying a blessed reunion!

Thanks again Roger and family, once again the Inca Kola arrived late last week! WooHoo!


At 1:47 PM, Blogger . said...

Just heard "Die for You" for the first time on Moody Radio's Mid-day Connection! Beautiful song! The legacy continues!

Still reading, still praying....

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to hear that Deanna and Lauren arrived safely! Enjoy your time together.

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Glad the liquid bubble gum arrived in good shape.


At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deanna: We are so happy you are home with Brent. We will miss you.

Lori and Scotty
Zionsville, IN

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Jan & Teresa said...

We are so thankful that Deanna and Lauren have arrived safely!! It must have been a joyous greeting from a not so experienced bachelor!

You continue to stay in our prayers!

God bless!

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Becky in Wilmore, KY:

Just wanted you to know that I am praying specifically for Andrew's family as you requested a couple of days ago.

Carol in Arlington, TX

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God.. we heard Bart talking about BJ on the radio earlier. Praying for you, and for Laura and Whitney's families.
Love you all

At 6:52 PM, Blogger the leaf family said...

Please pray for Scott's family. His cousin's 11 year old son was hit by a car early last week and has been pronouced brain dead. Please lift them up... Thank You
With love and prayers from KC-Tracy

At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story of Laura and Whitney really touched me. I didn't know them but for some reason it has really touched my heart. I actually found your site because of this tragedy. Some of the people leaving comments on Laura's Blog mentioned yours and because of that I sat down and read BJ's story. What a beautiful story of hope! I know it has been some months since you lost him and yet while I am sure you have the faith that you will see him again someday - I still wish to offer my condolances.

I also would like to comment on something you wrote here today. I feel like some have been very hard on the family and friends for not realizing that it wasn't Laura. I, personally, think this is a horrible tragic time for them, where they are probably doubting themselves a lot and they don't need any one elses doubts - so it should not be our place to cast stones. But in addition your words today reminded me that this is not without presedent and while I don't want to draw parrallels where they don't exist John 20:14 does say "she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize Him." It is within God's power to make people not recognize some standing right before them and while I don't know why it was within his plan to do it in this case - just because I don't understand doesn't mean that I doubt the plan.

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing how God uses many circumstances to call people to Himself. T

The miracle is in the fact that the world simply can not understand how the Higgins family and now the two Taylor families can stand on their faith. He is seen because the lost see Him through His family.

Praise the Lord for HIS plans...they are higher, so high that He tells us they are as the heaven is to the earth. No wonder we won't get the "big picture" until we are in His place.

Joining in continued prayer for all of these families (Higgins, He is drawing even more attention to you)to continue in the race. The trials continue to cause endurance. James 1

We love you & continue to be on our knees on your behalf!

At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Carol, for your prayers for the Perkins family who lost their son in the train collision on Saturday. The visitation is today (Tuesday--May 6) and the funeral will be tomorrow (May 7).

Wilmore, KY

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Gracie said...

Hi, my name is gracie and I just heard the story of BJ from an interview with MercyMe. I must say, i was really touched. I recently turned 15 and am really into mission work... especially overseas. I can tell that BJ's story has had a lot of impact on many people and I know it has on me and will continue to do so. I am so glad that I ran across your story.. God bless you!

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can't imagine not recognizing our own children, you are right. Yet, you are also right in saying that we don't know all the details involved. The most important thing to do is to pray for both families - the one that thought they were helping their daughter recover to find they are mourning her death, yet wishing they could have known at the beginning. Then the family that mourned the death and now have to learn to have her living again. There is so much we can draw from this, so much to learn from this. The most important thing, like you said, is to lift them up in prayer and to always keep our eyes and ears open to our loved ones.

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May God bless you as you move ahead in your new lives out there! God has great plans for you. We have enjoyed getting to know you!
Mary and Keith

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to pray for the college roommates of those girls. Also, for Laura's fiance, Aryn and Whitney's boyfriend. It is such a blessing that Laura's roommate began to notice something didn't seem right. These young people are dealing with so much!

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me - sorry if you think I am dumb, but I am missing something here ... who are these young ladies we are talking about and praying for? Can someone please fill me in?


Laurel in San Diego

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurel - these 2 gals, Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak were part of the students that was in the terrible van/truck accident 6 weeks ago near Marion, Indiana. 4 students and 1 staff member died at the scene. 1 student and 2 or 3 staff members were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Whitney Cerak was pronounced dead on the scene, and Laura Van Ryn was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. She had since been transferred to a hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan (her home). Her family and fiance had been keeping vigil at her bedside. Whitney's family had a funeral service for her in Gaylord, Michigan (north) with well over 1400 people in attendance. Just last week, as "Laura" began to wake out of a coma her family and college roommate and fiance, noticed something didn't seem right. She was all bandaged and the family couldn't really see much of her body. She didn't seem to be relating to the family - was asking for "dad" and when he would come to her, she would say "my dad" - finally the family began to question if this was the right person. The physical therapist had her write her name with her hand that isn't as injured - when she wrote her name she wrote "Whitney Cerak" - thus the paramedics had made the wrong identification at the scene. Whitney's parents did not want to look at the body, but her sister wanted to, to make sure it was her. The coroner persuaded her not to look. Perhaps she would have picked up on something. The girls look a lot alike, same body build, same hair type and color.
So, Whitney is now "alive" and with the right family and Laura's family had a memorial service for her this past Sunday at their church in Grand Rapids. This has made international news and has so many people so sad that these families have had to go through this. But,oh their love for Christ is shining brightly!! We think we would be able to tell our child's fingers or toes or something - but if they are broken and swollen and bandaged, discolored, we may find ourselves in the same situation. The girls did not have any ID on their bodies. They suffered significant head injuries. We need to really pray for Whitney - her recovery is going to be slow. How sad to see a vibrant 19 year old have to learn to do everything all over again.
Thanks for praying!!
Also pray for the students at Taylor University and Indiana Wesleyan University that were friends with all these students!!

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my - how tragic! I will continue to pray and pass the word on - how INCREDIBLY God is moving amongst His people when He allows these sorts of things to happen! He has ALL AUTHORITY and He is ALWAYS WITH US!

THANK YOU so much for explaining!

Love to you!



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