She believed her son was a victim of the Freeway Killer.
The first church I pastored was in the Los Angeles area of Southern California. It was located in the city of South Gate which bordered the city of Downey on its east, the town I lived in while we were there.
One night Ray, our youth pastor called me to tell me that he had received a call from a parent of one of the fourteen year old kids in our youth group. This boy hadn’t come to our group for perhaps six months. However, the mother didn’t know who else to call. She was distraught because her son Sean had been missing for several months and was feared dead. She had information that caused her to believe that her son was a victim of the Freeway Killer. She wanted to talk with me.
The Freeway Killer was a feared serial murderer who was abducting young boys from areas near entrances to the different freeways in Southern California. He would rape them, take their lives, and then leave their bodies in remote areas.
After we talked, at her request, I scheduled a time to hold a memorial service for her son at our church. It was one of the most sorrowful events I have ever officiated. People sobbed and moaned and it seemed that no one even heard what was being said about God that day—and could you blame them? The memorial service took place on August 11, 1980. After it was over I went away feeling: What good was done in that service?
Soon after that the Freeway Killer was captured. We learned that he lived only three blocks from where we lived in Downey. His name was William George Bonin. By the time his killing spree was over, the body count had risen into the mid-forties. They later learned that a second copy-cat killer, who was eventually named the California Strangler, was also taking the lives of young boys at the same time in Southern California. He was found to be responsible for nearly half of the forty four young boys who lost their lives. I tell this story in its entirety in my book “Touch One”.
Just a few years ago I received a call from Ray, and he told me the rest of the story.
It seems he had been at a conference more than thirty years after Sean’s death at which he was listening intently to a speaker. Afterwards he went up to the speaker to ask a question. After a few moments of discussion, Ray referred to the event of Sean’s death as an example of what he was trying to describe to the speaker.
At the mention of Sean’s name the speaker seemed shocked and asked, “Are you referring to the death of Sean King, by the Freeway Killer in the Downey area?”
“Yes” Ray said, rather surprised.
Then the speaker called his wife over and introduced her to Ray.
He said, “This is my wife. She is Sean King’s sister. She gave her heart to the Lord at the Memorial service your pastor gave for Sean. She became a committed Christian and later led me to the Lord. I am a Christian, and a minister today because of Sean King’s tragic death.”
When I ponder the result of this amazing story, I cannot help but marvel at the power and wisdom of the God we are meant to serve. He has the ability to take the most horrible events of our lives and turn them into the most incredible outcomes. And the story isn’t over. There are lives this young minister and Sean’s sister will continue to touch.
I’m sure there have been times in each of our lives when we were convinced that God had not come through for us. But God doesn’t view time as we do. For us time is “of the essence”. For God time is “of no concern.” God not coming through in our time means nothing. God coming through in His time means everything. And that is one of the primary components of trusting God.
Just remember, because there is a God who loves us, the story is not yet over.