We see it in the news all the time. People are murdered and nobody truly knows what happened except the person who is dead and the one who killed them.
But that’s not really true. There is always one more person who witnessed every crime ever committed and that is God. I’m not sure I would have believed what I’m going to share could have unfolded as it did if I had not experienced it myself.
I originally wrote this story for a book I published in 2013 but the family asked me not to include the it. The children were still small and their aunt (who I dearly love) said it was their story to tell. I respected her wishes and did not put it in my book. However, I have decided that this is God’s story and it needs to be told. I changed all the names out of respect for the family.
This story happened over twenty years ago and I don’t want it to die when I do. The events that transpired are important but the greater thing in all of this is God and His absolute sovereign control over the world.
Jesus said something amazing in scripture about The Holy Spirit.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
None of us can make God tell us anything. It is His decision whether He speaks or whether He does not. Everything He decides to do is for one ultimate reason; His glory. May He be glorified through the telling of this story.
On my son’s 10th birthday, I got a call from my mother and she said, “Angela is dead.”
I felt like the breath was completely knocked out of me. Mom went on to tell me that Angela was burned to death in a house fire.
Her husband and three youngest children escaped to safety, but she did not. She had an older son by a previous marriage and that son was visiting his father.
The circumstance that made all of us question what actually happened was that Angela had filed for divorce and had told Billy to leave. He was supposed to move out within days.
We were all devastated.
The funeral was packed. Her husband Billy and his family were in one part of the funeral home. Angela’s family was in the other part. Angela’s sister, Mary Ann, was so devastated she could barely walk. Angela’s little ones were 6, 4, and 2 years old. Her oldest was probably around 12.
Mary Ann knew Billy had killed her sister but couldn’t prove it.
When I got home from the funeral, I was fasting and praying about all that had happened. I asked God to speak to me. Angela and I were close and I wanted to help her sister and her family in any way I could.
I picked up my Bible and started where I left off the day before and I was in Psalm 79. As I was reading, I felt God’s Spirit take words written over a thousand years ago and speak directly to me. He told me what was going to happen. It freaked me out a little to tell the truth.
I read Psalm 79:10 and I put it on an index card with the date and Angela’s name on the back. I thought no one will believe me if I don’t write this all down now.
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.”
I thought to myself, “God is telling me this about Angela.” I looked up “avenged” to get the exact definition and I wrote it in my Bible at the top of the page.
Avenge-to inflict punishment or exact satisfaction for wrong done.
I was speechless and thought that was all until I got to the next verse.
May the groans of the prisoners come before you; by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die.
I grabbed another card and wrote Billy’s name on the back and the date. God was telling me Billy was going to be a prisoner, but wouldn’t get the death penalty.
I kept reading and saw that God also gave me a scripture for Mary Ann.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
I felt like God was saying that Mary Ann’s generation was going to tell Angela’s children (the next generation) what God had done and praise Him for it.
I was overwhelmed as I looked at all the scripture and believed God had spoken. I was a little doubtful because I never had anything like that happen (it’s not everyday a murder happens).
I felt like I should tell Mary Ann but was terrified because it is a huge thing to say, “God spoke to me and this is going to happen.” God takes stuff like that supremely seriously and so do I.
I called Mary Ann and said, “I feel (I understood I could have been delusional) like God might have spoken to me about what is going to happen.” I proceeded to tell her everything I felt God had said through my Bible reading.
God kind of knit our hearts together through the death of Angela, so Mary Ann started to lean on me as these events unfolded. God knew this was going to happen. At that time, Mary Ann didn’t have as close a walk with God as I did. He loved her and those babies so much, that He spoke to her through me. God doesn’t waste anything. If He has a vessel to pour through; He will. I’m not special. I was willing.
Time went by and Billy did not get charged with murder.
There was not enough evidence. He moved to another state and would hardly let Mary Ann see the children. When she did keep them, Billy would have to pry the 2 year old off of Mary Ann because he wanted to stay with her. She was beyond crushed.
Mary Ann had other sisters and they were so convinced that he was guilty, they took out a wrongful death civil case against Billy. He was supposed to show up in court but instead, he fled. Mary Ann called me in the middle of the night and said, “Billy has fled with the kids and they think he may have gone north. We don’t know what he might do to himself or the kids.”
I was destroyed. What about my promise?
I did the only thing I knew to do. I ran to my Bible and picked up where I left off.
“’For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.”
I went on to read:
They will live in safety and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people,, declares the Sovereign LORD, You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.
I felt God just dropped the mic and said He would go find those little sheep Himself and that He would bring them back to their own home (the previous state they lived in and put them with Mary Ann).
I was also reading in the New Testament so I flipped over there.
Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time.”
Luke 1:20b (The Message)
I was able to go to bed and sleep knowing God was on the move. He promised a thing and it was up to Him to fulfill it. This was all somehow part of His plan. It had been about 10 months since I felt He had spoken to me about what the future would be.
I woke up the next morning and shared with Mary Ann what I read. I told her God was in control.
Now get this. Because Billy had skipped his court date and fled with the children, his picture was on the news and a report about what happened. A lady who worked at a pawn shop happened to be watching and recognized Billy. She called the police and told them that he had come into the pawn shop and pawned several items. Some electronics and some jewelry to name a few.
The police called Mary Ann and she and her sisters went to the pawn shop. She said it was as big as a basketball court but within ten minutes they found Angela’s rings. One of them had been a ring that she always wore and others had been stored away. Because of that fact, evidence now pointed to premeditated murder. He had removed a ring from her finger and removed valuables before he killed her.
If he had not taken the children and ended up on the news, none of that would have happened. The ways of God are so beyond our understanding and perfect.
The Grand Jury (who meets once a month) met just a few days later and decided there was enough evidence to indict him.
Mary Ann and I talked often and as God would give me scripture, I would give them to her. One that I remember vividly was, “I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
Billy had fled with the children on 11-6-1999. On 1-21-2000 (exactly one year to the day from my promise from God), Billy was found in Panama by a private investigator who Angela’s first husband had hired to find him (a wonderful man and father of her first son who fought for her and her three babies).
Because of the Grand Jury’s indictment, Billy was arrested immediately. A friend of the family took a private plane and scooped up those babies and brought them back “to their own land” where “no one would make them afraid.” They never had to leave again. God kept His promise about going after those sheep.
Billy’s family had money and they lawyered up. When Mary Ann called and told me, I told her, “You have the greatest lawyer in the universe…Jesus Christ.”
We went through the trial and it was handed to the jury.
Mary Ann called me during the deliberation and said, “I need a scripture.” My daily reading was Psalm 94 so I told her to read it. She said someone else had given her that same scripture. She went into the room with all her family and friends, opened God’s Word and read it out loud.
The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, LORD; they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. They say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.
Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Can a corrupt throne be allied with you— a throne that brings on misery by its decrees? The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them.
After she read, the verdict came in. Guilty! Billy is in prison today and will be until he is an old man.
God did it all.
- God avenged Angela’s outpoured blood.
- Billy became a prisoner (not the death penalty).
- Mary Ann got custody of the children to recount God’s praise to the next generation.
The next morning, Mary Ann and I talked and my daily reading was Psalm 100.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates withanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Sheep. Generations. How in the world can God speak like that almost daily in the middle of a murder? Because He is God Almighty and He can do whatever He wants through anyone He chooses to show His mighty power.
Angela wanted only to protect her children and get them away from a man who was full of evil. God knew how it all had to happen. Mary Ann and I watched God fight a battle for Angela even though she wasn’t here. She was His beloved daughter and in her absence, God got up and removed everyone from their young lives that would hurt them.
Can God walk us through a murder? My answer is, “Won’t He do it!?”