Posted by: Derek Guyer | June 19, 2010

Death to Life

A week ago this evening, I found out a man whom we had been ministering to, Mike, ended his own life. I know I wasn’t the only one hurting, but, for me, that was a rough night. I laid in bed for hours crying as I tossed back and forth. I was tormented with thoughts of his children and their now absent father. I asked myself tons of questions and many of God, as well, in those sleepless moments in the dark.

From his own lips, Mike had been through a lifetime of pain and struggles and never seemed to get his mind wrapped around the blessings he had been given. Satan proved to have an incredible grip on his thoughts and never allowed certain truths to ever settle in to his mind.

The consequences have been devastating in many ways, and they will affect those to whom he was closest forever. He is survived by his ex-wife, Sonya, his son Bailey & and daughter Abigail, his father and mother, Steven & Kathy, and brother, Brian.

Mike had no problems admitting he was a broken man. He was a man who had lost hope. As much as many around him had hurt him, his real enemy, the devil, kept him wallowing in his pain. He and his wife had done tremendous amounts of pain to one another over the years, which had lead to their separation and divorce last year. Mike never seemed to overcome the torment of that time in his life.

While I ache for him, I know he’d ask me to continue the fight for his family. He would want his ex-wife and his children to know God better than he did. He would want them to know what Jesus meant when He said:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10 NIV

It’s obvious God wanted this, too. I had never met Mike’s wife, Sonya, until this week. Against her own will, she felt compelled to called me to share the news of Mike’s death. It was an interesting, but obviously God-led phone call.

Lisa and I, along with my cousin, met with Sonya several times while we were in St. Louis for the memorial service. Each time, we watched God reveal the depth of Sonya’s brokenness to her. But then, he showed her how deep and wide and great her sin is, and then he removed it from her.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 103:11-12 NIV

Sonya came to understand that life that Jesus promised and wanted it so badly. We sat up for hours into the early hours of the morning sharing the good news of Jesus’ love for Sonya, and she accepted it. She died with Christ through baptism and is now walking in newness of life. The angels, and a few simple people, rejoiced that evening around the water.

I don’t know that I’ll ever understand Mike’s death, the pain that lead to it or the pain that will come after it, but I do know that in some way, it brought life.

I’m not Mike’s eternal Judge and won’t even begin to try those shoes on, but for whatever pain, fear, wonder, and worry is associated with it, in some way it lead to another’s life. To God be the glory!

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

John 12:23-25 NIV


  1. I am Mike’s ex-wife. I wanted to take the time to Thank everyone that has been praying for our family. This has been the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life. 13 years with Mike, and now he is gone.
    Through his death I have a new life, a life with God. I don’t understand it but I embrace it. It is HIM who is walking with me now. I miss Mike, but he is no longer in his pain. Thank you again.

    • Sonya,

      Welcome to the family of Christ! We are so proud to have you as our new sister in Christ. Please know we are a big family and our Father (God) has and always will take care of us when we follow His word and have the relationship with Him that He wants us to have. We will be praying for you and your family and remember you are now alive in Him! Bless you… Bill Riley

  2. Sonya, I am pretty much blown away by a few of your statements. “Through his death I have a new life, a life with God” “I don’t understand it but I embrace it” “It is HIM who is walking with me now” That perspective and openness is, to me, essential to a life in Christ. “I don’t understand it but I embrace it”….. I have been trying to understand spirituality for many years and today, I feel farther away from a full understanding than ever. I am also more content than ever because I know that as I ask it will be given, according to the will of God. I just have to stop and lift my hands in praise to God for your new life. Your new life may very well lead to many new lives. May God be glorified. Thank you for your encouragement, Sonya.

  3. Sonya, my dear sister, I’m with Nathan, “I don’t understand it, but I embrace it.” is a thought that will serve your faith well. Who could conceive of a God so offended by our sins as to need distance from us, yet so heartbroken over that distance He offered His own perfect, sinless life as a way to satisfy His holiness and still have us? He has done everything. We have done nothing. He loved us when we were actively hating Him. Who can understand that? The only response we are capable of is breathless, ceaseless praise and thanksgiving to our Father.

    Welcome to the family. You have been, and will continue to be in my family’s prayers. And your faith has already been an encouragement to more people than you can imagine. In the days ahead – maybe even in this moment – when it is hard, remember His love. He is “the God of all comforts,” He knows your pain and He is faithful.

  4. Hi Sonya,
    You will never regret the decision you made to start walking hand and hand with Christ. He will strengthen and encourage you to be the mother you need to be to your two beautiful children. He will bless you each day as you embrace His truth and apply it to your life. I don’t know you, but I would love more than anything to hug your neck and comfort you during this time. He will be all you EVER need. Hold on girl, it’s gonna be a beautiful ride! 😉

    Love your sister in Christ,
    Leigh Ann

  5. Thanks for sharing this heart-touching story. May the Father provide blessings of comfort, peace and healing.

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