15 Comments

Explaining the Unexplainable


Beside the terrible tragedy surrounding this story, we are left with the question of why. Why things like this occur among God’s people.

I don’t have an answer.

I recall a similar account years ago,  shortly after joining Christian author Chip Bogden’s fellowship, The WayStation. A member had posted a prayer request for the family of a pastor’s wife who had committed suicide. At the time it lead to a discussion among us as to how this could happen to a child of God. I was reminded of that discussion when reading this.

From the Dallas News:

HENRIETTA, Texas – The train whistle blows several times a day in this North Texas community, the familiar soundtrack of life in small towns located along railroad lines.

But since late last month, the sound has become a haunting reminder of the evening when a beloved couple stepped onto the tracks and stood in embrace until a train ran them down.

The double suicide of the Rev. Eldon Earl Johnson, 69, and his wife, Linda Kay, 61, was particularly shocking because of the key role the Johnsons played in helping nearby Ringgold rise from the ashes after nearly being destroyed by wildfires three years ago.

Why the popular minister and his wife took their lives is a secret that they carried to their graves. But their deaths have left a community struggling to plumb the mysteries of the human heart.

During a memorial service last week, the couple’s three grown children, adopted son and daughter, 10 grandchildren and hundreds of friends and neighbors gathered to pay tribute to the Johnsons.

A minister asked anyone who had been helped or encouraged by the couple to stand up. Everybody stood.

“After those fires three years ago, he and his wife helped to distribute food and clothing to people who lost their homes, who had nothing left,” said Randy McCormack, 71, one of three pastors who officiated at the service.

By all accounts, the Johnsons, married for 43 years, were a happy couple who liked to hold hands and who were well-known and liked in Henrietta, 18 miles east of Wichita Falls. Their lives revolved around the daily visits to the Dairy Queen, where Linda worked as a cook. They ministered to the needs of their small church congregation in Ringgold and attended just about every sporting event involving their children and grandchildren.

Nobody knew of any devastating financial problems or illnesses, said Melissa Brock, their 41-year-old daughter who lives in Henrietta.

They left no note.

Many who crossed paths with the Johnsons on the day they died have wracked their brains trying to think of something that might have seemed odd or out of character.

That Tuesday, June 30, began like any other day. McCormack recalls sitting with Eldon at the Dairy Queen on West Omega Street, the main drag that becomes U.S. Highway 82. “I had coffee with him,” McCormack said. “He was happy-go-lucky. Nothing to pick up on.”

The DQ manager, Jo Vardell, said Linda worked her usual 6 a.m.-to-2 p.m. shift. The manager said she had just finished drawing up a new work schedule, and Linda asked if she was supposed to come in the next day. When told yes, Linda responded, “See you in the morning.”

About 5 p.m., the Johnsons called their son, Jason, 35, in Wichita Falls, where he works as an analyst for the regional planning commission.

Jason, who is separated from his wife, was staying at his parents’ home. Jason was driving his parents’ red Chevrolet Cavalier, because his truck’s air conditioning was on the fritz. But the elder Johnson told Jason he wanted to exchange vehicles with him – the Chevy needed some scheduled maintenance done in Wichita Falls.

Because of the late hour, “that seemed odd,” Jason said, but he didn’t give it much more thought. He met his parents a little before 6 p.m. inside a local department store.

The rendezvous was so casual that Jason doesn’t even remember saying goodbye. The only odd sign came a little later.

While waiting at a traffic light near the mall, Jason noticed his parents stopped at the intersection. His dad gave Jason a slight wave, but his mom stared straight ahead. It was perhaps another telltale sign, Jason said.

His mother was outgoing, and it wasn’t like her not to wave.

There might have been a reason his mother seemed preoccupied. For months, she had been carrying on an argument with her adopted son, Jerry, 20, about his engagement, which she vehemently opposed.

The Johnsons had taken in Jerry and his sister, Harley, 16, as foster children in 2000. They had formally adopted them the following year. Jerry, a standout high school athlete, had been attending Midwestern State University. But in February, he enlisted in the Army. About the same time, he became engaged to a woman whom he had met in school.

From the time Jerry told his parents about his engagement, his mother had been angry about it, Jerry said. “They didn’t like her,” he said. He thinks they also were angry that he had kept the relationship hidden from them until announcing his engagement in February.

Jerry had recently transferred to Fort Sill, Okla., about 60 miles north of Wichita Falls. A private first class, he is in training to become a tank operator.

Jerry gave this account of the day his parents died. About 6 p.m. that day, he was at the base, learning how to operate and maintain a tank. His cellphone buzzed with a text from his mother.

He said his mother’s text read: “We’re going to see Jesus tonight, and it’s for you.”

The text also said that he shouldn’t come to their funeral. Alarmed, Jerry quickly replied with his own text: “How is that?”

“You will see later tonight,” his mother wrote.

“What are you going to do?” wrote Jerry.

“You will see later tonight,” she replied.

Jerry didn’t know what to make of his mother’s text and wasn’t sure what to do.

Meanwhile, Jerry’s brother, Jason, arrived at his parents’ house about 9:30 p.m. after stopping to eat dinner in Wichita Falls.

The sheriff’s deputy knocked on the door a few minutes later. Jason told him that he figured his parents had gone out to dinner in Wichita Falls and hadn’t returned yet.

About 10:45 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a phone call from a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. A railroad worker had just flagged down the trooper to report that a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train heading westbound through Henrietta had just struck two pedestrians.

Arriving on the scene, Sheriff Kenny Lemons walked about 500 yards east from the railroad crossing at South Graham Street (State Highway 148), where he found the Johnsons’ bodies under a railway car. About the same time, a deputy found the couple’s red Chevy parked on the side of the road just south of the railroad crossing.

Three train employees gave statements that indicated the train had just come over a hill and was headed toward a trestle at the 95 mile marker when the couple was spotted standing on the tracks.

One worker wrote that he saw the woman standing between the rails and then saw the man stepping onto the tracks at the last minute to join her. The engineer applied the emergency brake, but it was too late to stop the train, which the sheriff said was traveling about 30 mph through the town.

All three statements from the workers were in agreement on one item: The couple was embracing and turned their heads away from the train just before impact.

more here

15 comments on “Explaining the Unexplainable

  1. Being upset over a son’s choice in a potential wife isn’t enough to take your life — it’s not enough to be weary about either. It sounds like the couple may have had an unhealthy, lifelong relationship.

    I think there was something wrong with them that they were able to hide from people. My dentist and his wife took their lives last year — they were extremely close but they left behind grandchildren and daughters who loved them — they had a mountain of debt — you would never have known they were troubled to that extent.

  2. Its sad Robin when these things occur, isn’t it…

    It sounds like the couple may have had an unhealthy, lifelong relationship.

    I didn’t get that from the statements made by those who knew them, but we can’t know for sure.

    They appeared to be fine financially and health-wise, and very active…

    Its just unexplainable.

    • Some people, for whatever reason, are masters at hiding their true selves — even from those closest to them. You always hear stuff like this (especially in cases of multiple shootings in a family): “We had no idea they were depressed, or “That’s not the Joe Blow I knew.”

      I hate to say this but it feels demonic (that they listened to the voice that told them to kill themselves) — AND it’s very sad indeed.

  3. Suicides take people to hell.

    Prophet Vincent Selvakumar(http://www.voiceofjesus.in/selva/) said that he once saw a vision of a woman committing suicide. The woman’s body was burning, she died, and her soul continued to burn in hell.

    The devil deceives people that their problems will end, when they committ suicide.

    • I’m sure that’s possible Golda, but i also believe its not always the case.

      I base that on that there could be Christians who are just not in their right mind at the time they do this. It could be a mental affliction (from a physical cause) or something else…

      I just don’t think we can know in each situation, but the important thing is God does.

  4. PJ miller said:
    “I base that on that there could be Christians who are just not in their right mind at the time they do this. It could be a mental affliction (from a physical cause) or something else…

    I just don’t think we can know in each situation, but the important thing is God does”.

    I agree with this. I once had to take the funeral of a man who had made a profession of faith and joined our church 6 months before committing suicide. Although I hardly knew him, I came to the conclusion that such action is not normally taken by people in their right minds, and said so at the service. Only God knows the full story. My responsibility was to address the needs of those left behind.

  5. I agree with you PJ. Suicide can come from a lot of sources. But there is usually spiritual , psychological, and physical components all working together creating a perfect storm of tragedy within the family. I can tell you this from the experience of dealing with a family member who suffers from suicidal thoughts, that no one kills themselves because they don’t like their son’s girlfriend. That woman was already depressed physically and weary spiritually. The son was just the straw that broke the camels back.
    And since you brought up the topic , the church has a very bad track record of dealing with depression. There is a stigma associated with mental illness of all kinds that is very hard to overcome, even in the secular world. The church does not know how to deal with it. Any Pastor ( or pastors wife) who begins to show signs of depression , where do they go for help? We like our Pastors perfect free of any defect.
    I feel very sorry for the son who got texted, cause his mom put a heavy , heavy burden on him saying it was because of him. We should all keep him in our prayers.

  6. this is very timely for me as a family member tried to commit suicide a few days ago, but pills were taken and help was called when they knew that things were getting “very bad”..

    the lady in this article was determined to commit suicide and it seems her husband joined her at the last minute, perhaps he could not bear the thought of being without her.. they turned their heads at the last minute, there was no thought of not going through with it..

    I also feel very sorry for the son who got texted, but I have to believe that there was some other reason for the mother to do this, because not being happy with the choice of a girlfriend is not enough reason .. people don’t seek vengeance by killing themselves, do they?

    I don’t know that I agree that suicides do not go to heaven if they are believers.. years ago where I live, the pastor of an evangelical church committed suicide by drowning himself..

    if a person’s sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, would not that include suicide? just wondering.

    this is a tough subject.

    • I don’t know that I agree that suicides do not go to heaven if they are believers.. years ago where I live, the pastor of an evangelical church committed suicide by drowning himself..

      if a person’s sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, would not that include suicide? just wondering.

      this is a tough subject.

      Vicki, it is a tough subject. There are so many issues involved in each individual case, its impossible to have a pat answer. If God’s word was clear as in ‘you shall not commit suicide’ it would make it easier…but it doesn’t.

      Like other issues in which the Bible doesn’t give a clear concise word, i think we just have to trust that God’s decision, in the case of children of God who take their own lives, will always be the right one.

      Only He knows the real reason concerning each individual that chooses that end.

      The pastor’s wife i mentioned in the OP suffered for many years with deep depression. It was a medical condition. She had been treated for it many times over the years, with no lasting results. From what i recall, she had been saved for much of her life, and served God faithfully until that day. So like you, there would be no way i could say she did not reach her eternal rest in Glory.

  7. Though I agree with PJ that only God knows all the situations,suicide should not be taken lightly. After being saved, if one continues in adultery, because of a spirit of lust, do they end up in hell or heaven? I think the same goes for suicide.If people are driven by the spirit of suicide to committ suicide, then I think they end up in hell. The devil is a liar and a deceiver. We need to watch and pray for those who need help.

    I agree with the following article.
    http://surewordministries.net/suicide.html

    • Yes you’re right Golda, it should never be taken lightly.

      If people are driven by the spirit of suicide to committ suicide, then I think they end up in hell.

      I can’t agree with that. We are not given to know the circumstances surrounding the ‘why’s’ in each case. But God does. Saying they all go to hell [or all go to heaven] is one judgment i would not make…

      We need to watch and pray for those who need help

      Amen

  8. [[if a person’s sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, would not that include suicide? just wondering.]]

    One needs to repent, and how do they do, after committing suicide?

  9. This is tragedy.


    According to Michael Jackson’s largest online fan club, MJ fanatics have been recently committing suicide because of the pop star’s tragic death. The Sun is reporting that up to 12 die-hard Jackson followers have taken their own lives since his passing on Thursday.

    • Yes, that is a tragedy Golda. I hadn’t heard about it…

      Where have these occurred, in the US?

  10. Vicky,
    I was so sorry to hear that you are going through ” The valley of the shadow of death ” with a loved one. Believe me I have been in your spot many, many times. Psalm 23 was a great comfort to me.God said we would sometimes visit that valley. I hope your loved one is getting help, professional help. Your job is to pray, visit, and be as supportive as you can. The Lord will be with you through this whole ordeal, I know he will. I will keep you in my prayers. Thank God we serve a kind and compassionate Savior who understands all and sees all that we can’t understand. Thank God we are not the judges, and his judgment is perfect.

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