July 8, 2005, Bill, Pam, Bethany and Amy all together died instantly and entered eternity in a tragic car accident on the way from Amarillo to Houston. They were on their way to see their son/brother Matthew and his wife Kara. Matthew alone is left.
We got a call the following morning informing us of the tragedy. We were stunned, as was everyone who heard the news. After my initial shock, I thought, "They are with the Lord, beholding the face of God. Wow!" At the same time, I thought of Matthew loosing his entire family in one hard blow. Immediately, I thought of Job, who lost all 10 of his children in a moment of time. I had just finished teaching the book of Job to my two children. It was beautiful as we learned about Job's godly character through his great calamity. God Himself says this about Job:
"There is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." (Job 1:1, 8)
Wow! We all agreed that we, in like manner, want to be found by God with these four amazing characteristics. After Job's initial calamity, God a second time said to Satan:
"Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." (Job 2:3) This time, God adds this, "And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause." He still holds fast his integrity! Did you get that? That's the fifth characteristic of Job integrity! He was a man of integrity! So, we have five amazing characteristics, well six if you count the first thing said about him by God:
1) There was no one like him on earth
3) Upright man
4) Fearing God
5) Turning away from evil
6) A man of integrity
Now, as Providence would have it, after we finished the book of Job, God put us in the book of Proverbs. We are learning about wisdom and instruction. We know that all wisdom and understanding come from God's hand.
"For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity." (Proverbs 2:6-7)
As we read that verse of Scripture, the word "upright" instantly pointed us to Job! We know by this verse of Scripture that God gave Job wisdom and He was Job's shield of protection. Even Satan said to the Lord:
"Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face." (Job 1:9-11)
Ouch. Accusations. Satan is our accuser. And that was what he did with Job, the most righteous man on the face of the earth, as God said here:
"He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against Him to ruin him without cause." (Job 2:3)
Now let's get back to the lives of this amazing family, the Rehrers. Job came to my mind as I thought of Matthew and the loss of his entire family. I immediately knew God had already prepared his heart to receive this news before he ever knew what happened. Due to the valleys the Lord has brought my family through, I knew that God was abundantly supplying the grace He promises which is new every morning to Matthew's heart and life. He was walking in a rare state of grace that is needed by and given only to the immediate family in such a tragedy. God is faithful. He doesn't save us to drop us in a ditch and work it out on our own. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises that His everlasting arms are underneath us; we will not fall. He says that when we pass through the waters, He will be with us, and the rivers will not overflow us. He says when we walk through the fire, we will not be scorched, nor the flame burn us!! As Daniel's three young friends entered the fire of Nebuchadnezzer's furnace, and found Jesus there with them, so He is with us as we walk through the fire of life's trials that only serve to make us more like Jesus. I knew Matthew would be OK because his Savior, King Jesus, was with Him holding him up.
A day or so later, we heard that as the DPS officer came to Matthew's door to deliver the horrible news, she was an emotional wreck and quite shaken. Matthew, like his father Bill, was solid in the Lord. He did not waver. From what we understand, He said that it was all right because they were all with Jesus in heaven. He got to share the gospel with this shaken woman. Praise God!
We knew we had to go down for the Memorial Service. So we headed down in our car Tuesday evening to be at the service by Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. As we drove, I saw many trees beside the road. Most of the ones I noticed were live oaks. One in particular struck me as big and beautiful. The Lord spoke to me through that wonderful oak. It was hot, in the 100's. We had our A/C on high. As I looked at the big tree, a couple thoughts went dancing through my mind. This tree had a lot of shade under it's beautiful branches which were full of leaves. I saw a picture of the mature Christian a solid oak of righteousness there. If we were outside, that is the tree we would want to sit under. It was so big, providing so much cool shade on such a hot day. That tree was so big because it was so much older than the other trees. It's root system had found the water it needed underneath the ground to thrive in the heat of Texas. The roots which were buried underneath the earth, where our eyes could not go, were finding their source of life to feed the rest of the tree and keep it thriving and beautiful, providing cool shade for whoever would need to be refreshed. In like manner, the Christian that has faced many storms in life has placed the roots of their hearts, where our eyes cannot go, in the Lord Himself through His life giving Word and prayer. Those two things every day:
1) The Word
Through those two things consistently, they have grown so very strong and beautiful. So, when the young little tender chutes need refreshment and life in their spirits, they go to that strong tall life giving oak of righteousness to be filled with what they need, which is Jesus Christ - the Way, the Truth and the Life! That tree is a picture of what every Christian aspires to be. And the only way to become that life giving oak is to spend time every single day in the Word and in prayer!
As I shared that beautiful vision with my sweet husband, he said, "Where did you hear that?" I told him God just gave that to me as I looked at that tree. We both agreed I needed to journal that.
Finally, we arrived at the service. We ran into many dear brothers and sisters in Christ whom we hadn't seen in a very long time. What a joy to see them again. But what a reminder under these circumstances that "The wages of sin is death" but in this case - praise the Lord that "The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!" (Romans 6:23)
We got there a little early. We wanted to see Matthew. We wanted to give him our hearts in love. He was in the back with Pastor Bruce Blakey preparing for the service and to speak. Yes, I did say to speak. He actually spoke. And very eloquently I might add! Glory to God! All the glory went to God!
I ran into Pastor Blakey's wife Roberta. It was good to see her. I mentioned that Matt was on our church prayer list in Dallas as well as our old church in Pittsburgh, PA. I told her that many people around the country were praying for him. She added that many people around the world from different countries were praying for him, eight in total.
That is the outreach the Rehrer family had. They ministered to so many. We will only know the full extent of their ministry as we too - by the blood of Christ - enter heaven blameless with great joy!
So, we took our seats. After Stan Coss read Scripture, Pastor Blakey was the first to speak. He spoke words of hope and encouragement. He reminded us of the amazing lives that were lived by Bill, Pam, Bethany, and Amy. He looked square at Matthew in the front row with his lovely wife Kara and said, "Matthew, you can walk in your father's footsteps, because he walked in the footsteps of Christ."
Then, one by one, we marveled at the memories and stories that were told about these gallant lives lived totally surrendered and yielded to Christ in every conceivable way. We laughed as we were reminded of Bill's great love for the Spurs and his amazing sense of humor. We marveled as we were reminded of Bill's tireless work on behalf of Christ for his wife, children, church and school. We were told that as the headmaster of Believer's Academy, one of his favorite things to do was to teach the kindergarten students how to read so that they could read their Bibles. We were told that he brought the little kindergarteners up to the front of the school so everyone could enjoy this wonderful event, a small child reading the Word of God! How beautiful. How did he do this? Every morning, he got up at 5:30 a.m. to meet with His Lord Jesus in His Word and in prayer. There they are again.
1) The Word
Remember Job, Proverbs and the illustration given by God about the oak of righteousness? It is all coming together. The common thread has been spun by Bill and his entire family.
We also found out that he had a prayer journal that he wrote in daily. Matthew shared some of the themes running through it with us. Bill prayed fervently for his children. He prayed daily for the children at Believer's Academy as well as ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) of which he was chairman of the Accreditation Commission in Dallas. Matthew also shared that the last or second to the last line in all his father's journal entries was, "Lord, keep me from sin."
That is how he led such a powerful life. He drew from the life giving fountain every single day! He was that oak I saw on the way down to this service. He was the one to whom everyone came with their difficulties in life. He was the one that taught his children how to fervently serve God and to do all that they did in love. He is the one who, through that daily drawing of life, gave his life to his wife, as Christ gave His life for His bride, the church. He was the one who taught his children how to pray. He was the one who passed his deep hunger and love for Jesus and His righteousness onto his children. And O, how those children hungered for Christ daily.
We were also convicted as we were reminded, and even heard for the first time, about Pam's quiet service to her family and to her Lord. She was the solid Proverbs 31 woman. They both came to Texas over twenty years ago from New Jersey, feeling and answering the call of the Lord to lead the music ministry at Believer's Fellowship and start the Academy. They came with nothing, not even a job. But the Lord faithfully provided work for Bill as Pam cared for their young son Matthew. Everyone spoke of how she stood by Bill's side as a submissive wife. She was the example everyone followed. We heard from a prayer partner she was a solid woman of prayer with a genuine heart who loved and served and prayed fervently for her children as well as everyone else's children. We heard from another friend how she was never idle, but always worked good with her hands for everyone. She cooked, baked, quilted, sewed, and cared for every need her family had. She loved sacrificially, giving no account to her own life. She was always smiling.
As the family grew a little, Bill became the headmaster of Believer's Academy. It has grown to become a solid school thanks to Bill and Pam by his side. Matthew shared at the memorial service that his mother was a faithful volunteer at Believer's Academy. He said he asked her once, "Mom, your husband is the administrator of this school, why do you volunteer in the cafeteria every day?" Her response was, "I want to get to know the kids." Wow! She had an amazing heart for the children! Bill had an amazing love for the children too. That is why they did what they did day in and day out. And after Pam had volunteered, working all day at the school, she would rush home every afternoon to cook dinner and have it on the table by the time her dear husband came home from work. And as he walked through the front door, she faithfully scurried the entire family together to greet her dear husband, their faithful father, with hugs and kisses and lots of loving smiles. Can you just see it? What a beautiful picture of God's design for marriage and the family. Love. They really loved one another. They had a solid marriage, and their children were blessed by its fruit which was true love. Love in Christ.
How did they do this every single day? Two daily disciplines:
1) Daily Bible intake - the Word
2) Daily Time with Jesus - in Prayer
They filled up their hearts with His love and grace so that they could fill everyone else's hearts with His love and grace.
We were awed as we heard of 22 year old Bethany's great love and devotion and service to her first and greatest love - Jesus Christ, her Master and King. She was a senior at The Master's College in California. She traveled with a musical group from her school called Majesty sharing the gospel of Christ. She traveled to Isreal and Spain with them. Missionaries who met her in Spain said, "God gave us the privilege of knowing Bethany for the three weeks she was here in Spain. In those few short weeks Bethany conquered our hearts with her sweetness and her love for the Lord." One friend proudly explained how you couldn't get to Bethany in the morning. No one could. Her door was locked and she refused to see anyone until she spent her time with Christ in the Word and prayer. There they are again, the two common denominators of this family the Word and Prayer. We were told that anyone who had a problem came to Bethany because she had the answers. She too, was rooted deeply in Christ. Therefore, she fed countless hungry souls manna from heaven that she found in the wee hours of the morning in the quiet secret place of her heart. We are told by one of her dear friends that she found Bethany working on her computer late one night and asked her why she was still up doing school work. Bethany's reply was that numerous people needed encouragement and counsel in the Lord which kept her busy. She said that was more important and knew she could do her school work later. Like her mother and father, she sacrificially gave up her time and plans for the good of others. Matthew read excerpts from her journal that are so glorious and filled with praises and honor to her King Jesus. She was deeply and passionately in love with Christ. Matthew shared that Bethany declared herself a rose, and refused to give herself to anyone that would hurt her. He said she had been hurt by a few boys, but refused to give herself to them. A precious young man had finally come into her life, which Matthew said was the first man that never hurt her. This young man, Bjorn, also spoke earlier in this service. As he began speaking, he identified himself as her fiancé. He said Bethany was beautiful and he loved her. He said the most beautiful thing about her was her amazing love for Jesus Christ. He quoted Scripture: "The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
(Job 1:21b) He too, trusted deeply and completely in the Lord Christ and His goodness, though mysterious, at this time.
Next, we were captivated by God's goodness and generosity and love through the youngest sister of 19 years, Amy. A young mother with two beautiful young girls stood up in honor of Amy, their trusted babysitter and great friend. They declared Amy's faithfulness in caring for their every need, even things that they never expected, like scurrying the children to the kitchen as soon as she came through the door to make a macaroni dinner so Mom could go upstairs and freshen up for her date. The first time Amy babysat for this family, she tenderly held their first crying child as she screamed the whole time Mom and Dad were out. They came back and suspected Amy would never return. But they called on Amy again, and she did come back. She kept coming back. She even sent one of the girls a 5 dollar bill in the mail with a sweet letter of love for her 5th birthday.
Also Pastor Blakey mentioned earlier that Amy sent a gift card for the restaurant of Matthew and Kara's choice once every single month. Matthew mentioned as he spoke of his youngest sister Amy that she always wanted them to call her after they ate at the restaurant to hear what they had to eat. That always made her so happy. She was generous and kind and so very thoughtful. Matthew also shared other sweet stories of Amy. He said she really loved life and lived it to the fullest. He told us she loved to shop. She had so much fun. He declared they could eat the same chocolate bar and she would always get double the pleasure. Another friend stood on her behalf and said how Amy always made her laugh and how Amy loved Jesus and enjoyed helping everyone. Matthew also mentioned that as he skimmed Amy's prayer journal found in the car, he was amazed at what he saw. The last year of Amy's life was spent in a new town, Amarillo, where she attended Amarillo Community College. She really didn't have many close friends like she had in San Antonio. He said before her move, her friends were all mentioned every day in that journal. But after the move, he was amazed to see every day filled completely with "The Lord..." "The Lord..." He saw that the Lord moved her up there so she could learn to totally depend on Him alone. And that she did. She had a deep abiding love in Christ. She was always thinking of others, a faithful servant to the end.
Finally Matthew, after everyone spoke, stood up front and center of the large Family Life Center at which this service was being held. This building was his father Bill's vision, and was largely a result of his diligent work. It is a large center with 2 full basketball courts - very large. On this day of remembering the Rehrer family, it was filled with people. A rough guess of the number in attendance would be about 1000 or more people. They actually overflowed into the church building for lack of room. There stood the young man for whom we had all been fervently praying, the young man who now stood alone with his wife Kara, who just lost his entire family. What would he say? How could he speak? As he took the stage, he said, "My father taught me public speaking, so forgive me if I look down to read." Already, you could see his strength. Then, he says, "I'm going to do something that Dad always wanted to do." At having said that, he took his tie off. That tore down the crowd with laughter. We all knew for certain now he was going to stand tall and strong. He was in control, or should I say strongly connected to the One in control.
He continued by saying that many people asked "Matthew, how are you going to get up and speak?" He said, "By God's grace." He told us he appreciated everyone's offering money to the memorial funds and the flowers, but what he needed and what was helping most was everyone's prayers, hugs and love. That was what was holding him up. He then shared that right before he was to get up to speak, he wasn't sure if he could, because he was weak. But he said that God's grace had filled him up. So there he stood, strong in God's grace before us.
Next, he said, "I can sum up everyone's questions with one word:"
"Why was Bethany driving the car when Dad always drove?"
"Why were they driving the Saturn instead of the Honda?"
He said the first Bible verse that went through his mind was "Who do I have in heaven but You Lord?" (Psalm 73:25) Another was, "To live is Christ" He said he has always lived that part, but he was now learning the next part to that verse, "To die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
He continued by letting us know that many people were sharing verses of Scripture that he didn't even know were in the Bible, that coming from a young man that spent his life mining the Word of God. One of the verses was from Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the site of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." He said that verse is now precious to him.
Another verse he cites is Job 1:21: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" He said, "Now I am really getting the next part of the verse" and he continued his quote, "Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God." Wow.
Matthew stood up there boldly declaring God's faithfulness and goodness and glory in the midst of this fire. He, like Job, did not blame God, instead falls on his face to worship. God was in our midst manifesting His majesty through this young man and the lives of his faithful family.
Matthew continued as he shared that in the wreck, everything was destroyed but all four Bibles and all four prayer journals. Not even a drop of oil got on them. God's amazing Providence he declared. We all agreed. God's hand was clearly revealed in many ways there. He said that through the years, they all wrote their favorite Scripture verses and quotes in the front of their Bibles. He said he was amazed as he read each one of them. Those very verses were coming together to answer all the "whys". Those verses and quotes declared a beautiful tapestry of God's Providence that was being revealed about his family's lives. They also brought God's light into the darkness of where they stood today. What some would perceive as ashes, Matthew knew and boldly claimed these verses clearly declared God's glory and good purpose in it all!
Here are a few verses he cited from the Bibles:
Philippians 2:14: "Do all things without grumbling or complaining." He said from his heart of truth that he never in all the years he lived ever once heard his father complain! Bill Rehrer didn't just preach it, he lived it! Praise God!
1 Corinthians 16:14: "Let all you do be done in love." All of the family members lived according to this command in Scripture. True love serves and sacrifices, giving no account to self. That is what each one on these lovely ones did every day God gave them breath.
One of Pam's favorite quotes that was written in her Bible: "If you were on trial being accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Matthew then said, "Mom, convicted."
As mentioned above, Bill's common prayer request every day at the end of his journal entry was,
"Lord, keep me from sin." Matthew went on to proclaim, "Dad is now free from sin."
He continued by saying he was so happy they were all in heaven with Jesus Christ. He said he wouldn't bring them back into their sinful flesh or this sinful world. He is rejoicing in the reality that they are in heaven beholding the face of God.
Earlier in the service, one of the men standing on behalf of Bill, had reminded us that after each service at Believer's Fellowship, Bill (their music director) would close with "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus." Maranatha means, "Come Lord Jesus". He longed, more than anything else, for Jesus to come. Now, as Pastor Blakey stated earlier, "Jesus honored that earnest prayer of Bill's four times over by coming for Bill, Pam, Bethany and Amy all in one swift moment."
Matthew ended the service with this, "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As you can see plainly, Matthew is our modern Job. He is a man of integrity, blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. And in it all, he has not blamed God. Let us all pray daily for him and his wife as they walk the path God set out for them.
We probably can't even begin to guess how many lives and hearts will be transformed through this amazing story. It's all about Jesus. The only way Matthew is standing is because he is standing on the unchanging, immutable, unmovable Rock, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He, like the rest of his family, has repented of his sins and believed in Christ for his salvation. He has the hope that he will see his family again as Jesus comes for him at his appointed time.
As we see clearly, we do not know when our appointed time will be. That is why God says, "Today is the day of salvation." We don't know if we will be here tomorrow. Have you repented of your sins and believed in the only Savior provided for men, Jesus Christ? If you have, praise God! If you have not, I have provided a couple links for you to read about how to do just that, turn to God in repentance and faith so that one day you too can be in heaven with Jesus, the Rehrer family, our Mom and Dad Bollinger and all the saints who have gone before us. My earnest prayer, which would be the Rehrer family's as well, is that God would be glorified through this writing and that He would bring lost souls to eternal life through Christ our King. Amen.
Links to learn more about the Christian faith and salvation through Jesus
Click on "The Greatest Gift" with your children. This is one of the means the Lord recently used to save our son Bryce Graham
Matt and Kara request in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the following funds:
Bethany Grace Rehrer Music Scholarship
TMC Music Department # 13
21726 Placerita Canyon Rd.
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Contact: Lisa Martin, 661.259.3540,ext. 3190
In honor of Bill Rehrer:
Family Life Center Building Fund
Believer's Fellowship & Academy
13714 Lookout Road
San Antonio, TX 78233
"Gymatorium" Building Fund
San Jacinto Christian Academy
P.O. Box 3428
Amarillo, TX 79106
Both of these building projects were passions of Bill Rehrer as he was involved at Believer's Fellowship and Academy for 22 years and was presently the administrator at San Jacinto Christian Academy.