Jane and I were sitting down to breakfast when the phone rang. The voice on the line sounded distraught and said, “Pastor Terry, can you come over to our house right away? My son was killed and the funeral car is coming for the body at eleven o’clock. Can you bring a message to the family?” The voice sounded familiar but I wasn’t sure who it was, “Who’s speaking please?” “Sr. Elizeu,” he responded. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I’ll be right over.”
It was a bit of a shock. It had only been the week before when I had held a funeral for Daniel from the village of Milho. He had been murdered and his body was only found three days later. That had been a real shocker, and now another death in the church family.
Sr. Elizeu and his wife Neide had previously lived out at the Indian village called Milho. They had moved to the village, started coming to church, made decisions and were baptized. Sometime later after we had started the new work in Boa Vista they moved to the city and began attending faithfully with us at Grace Baptist.
When I arrived at the home of Sr. Elizeu there was already a small group of people quietly sitting around the casket. The casket was in the veranda of the house in the shade of a mango tree. Sr. Elizeu and Dona Neide had tears in their eyes as we stood and gazed upon the face of their son. I didn’t know until that day that the couple had an older son; they had never mentioned him. The wife of the son who was killed sat off apart from the rest of the group, kept going out into the back yard and didn’t come near the casket. I had never seen her before and I sensed that something wasn’t right.
Sometimes a person is careful not to ask too many questions, especially at a time of sorrow and tears. As we sat around my curiosity got the better of me and so I asked Sr. Elizeu what had happened. “His wife killed him”, he replied quickly and coldly, raising his head with a nod and pointing his nose in her direction. I was dumbfounded, “His wife killed him?” And there she was sitting at the far end of the veranda! “She rocked him”, he responded. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! He continued on with his story, “They were on their way back home when he got drunk along the way. They were sitting on the side of the highway when he passed out. She picked up a rock and hit him on the head, killed him and drug him out to the middle of the road to make it look like he was struck by a car. She then went to a nearby house and asked for a drink of water and then returned to the highway. She then went running back to the house screaming saying her husband had been hit by a car.” I could hardly believe my ears; the son had been murdered by his wife and there she was sitting right there.
It was a sobering moment. What am I going to say in my message I wondered? The Lord gave me grace and I was able to bring a Bible based message to comfort the family in their time of sorrow and to make the gospel clear for those not saved.
Shortly after the message the funeral car arrived to take the body to the cemetery. Back in those days everyone caught rides in the back of my truck as interior people generally didn’t have a car of their own. The wife of the deceased got into the front of the truck in the middle and there I was with a killer in the cab. On the way to the cemetery I tried to open up a conversation and immediately she became nervous. She told her story of how he had gotten drunk and had gotten hit by a car on the highway and all the while she spoke her hands started shaking uncontrollably.
Back at the house I asked Sr. Elizeu how long they had been married. He responded, “Just a couple of years, she killed her first husband too.” My next question was why she wasn’t in jail? He replied again that someone would have to go to the police and make a report and only then would they treat the son’s death as a murder and not as an accident. As far as I know that was never done.
When I was in Bible School we were taught to be ready “to preach, pray or die”. In ministry there often comes a time when a person needs to do exactly that. In Brazil funerals are generally held within twenty-four hours of the passing of the individual. Certainly, that morning when I received the phone call I had no idea what the day would bring forth. God is good and is able to lead and guide his servant in unusual circumstances.
I Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”