18, No Time to Waste
ON MONDAY NIGHT, two weeks after the accident, Bev finally came to our door. I greeted the glowing girl with a hug.
"Kathi was so great," she began after we sat down together over tea and cookies. "I guess you want to know why I signed my card, "Thank you, Kathi.' "
"I do, I do."
Bev flipped her long hair back in typical teen-age fashion.
"I was at the beach with some kids from my club when we heard about the accident. Most of the girls were in swimming, but a few of us were just sitting around talking, when all of a sudden we heard a scream and one of the girls came running down the hill crying, 'Kathi Johnson has been killed.'
"We were all stunned. Not Kathi, I thought. Kathi had been so alive and always so excited about everything. My friend Mary and I had just been talking about God and how we just couldn't believe there could be a God, you know, with all the bad stuff going on in the world. And now this news about Kathi. I just couldn't believe God would let her die."
We both wiped the tears from our eyes as Bev continued.
"After awhile the other girls went away, and Mary and I were sitting there crying and talking about Kathi when all of a sudden two girls walked up to us. They said, 'Could we share something with you?' We nodded.
"Then they told us about the four spiritual laws and how God loves us and has a plan for our lives.
"We listened to everything they said, especially because of the news we had just heard about Kathi. When they asked us if there was any reason why we couldn't let Christ into our hearts, we knew there wasn't. Mary and I both bowed our heads and put God on the throne of our hearts instead of ourselves.
"Now there seemed a reason to be living. Everything that had puzzled me before fell into place.
"If it hadn't been for Kathi's death and the faith I knew she had placed in Christ, I might never have known the Lord. That's why I said, 'Thank you, Kathi.' "
Bev's radiance was real, her joy unmistakable. I thought of that gem of a verse in Corinthians, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
In the months to come I saw the "new" things in Bev's life: her new faith, her new goals, her new desires. I couldn't help but look at Kathi's smiling picture and repeat, "Thank you, Kathi."
One Sunday in church Bev handed me a small folded piece of paper. On it she had written these words:
I had a friend,
And I didn't know it,
So caught up was I in my own world.
I ignored an outstretched hand full of warmth.
My friend is gone, but I feel the warmth.
My friend left me LIFE.
As we shared the decisions of Kathi's friends with the Wallises and the Quatros, they had much to share about friends of Mike and John. They, too, had left a tremendous impact on their friends. It was John's aunt, Ethel Emily Wallis, author and missionary, who conceived the idea of printing a small booklet in memory of our three children. Under her capable hands, we watched the booklet grow into a highly polished, eight-page brochure called "The Winning Team."
On the cover was a picture of John Wallis breaking the tape for Canoga Park High's track team. Inside, pictures of Kathi, Mike, John, and Dave graced the colorful pages, with their testimonies, snapshots taken at Camp Hammer, a newspaper clipping about the accident, and an excerpt of the funeral message.
The last paragraph read: "If you would like to know more about the God of Kathi, Mike, and John, write to Dave Wallis."
It was distributed to each student at the three high schools and began making its way into homes all over the San Fernando Valley and even into faraway states.
As thrilling as the response to the booklet, was the Sunday morning service at which it was dedicated. The church was filled to capacity; many school friends of the four were there. And at one point, Felicia gave her first testimony of Jesus Christ.
"I know many of you think it was Kathi's letter that brought me to Christ, but it wasn't. It was her life. I knew her and lived with her, and I knew she had something I didn't have something I wanted. Now I know it was Jesus Christ. And I don't have to be afraid or lonely anymore. I have Christ with me always. I only want God's will for my life."
It was a shining moment! But only a foretaste of the real glory when we stand before the Lord and really know the countless souls brought to heaven because of Kathi, Mike, John, and Dave . . . .
"Remember, things don't just happen to those who love God," I could hear my dad saying. "They are planned."
"We prayed before we left camp," Dave told us. "We all prayed that the hand of God would be on our car."
And their prayers were answered not exactly the way they might have expected, but answered in God's perfect timing. God had heard their dedication in promising Him all and had taken them at their word.
As letters began coming in to Dave, I thought of the line in Kathi's letter to Felicia. "For every one I've failed, three more will come to trust in Jesus."
Dave, so miraculously recovered, began answering the letters, sharing his faith with the many who asked for help. And Dave shared some of the letters with me, all written with the same plea from teen-agers, from grandmothers, from servicemen, and even from a high school coach "Help me find God!"
I read the small story of you and the other three of you Winning Team and I really felt a touch of our Lord's goodness I suppose you have many people ask you how you can be glad when your friends and your very own brother were killed, but they don't understand that they have already reached the home we want to have when we die. I only came too Christ a few weeks ago, but I am so glad I did. How can I tell my friends about Christ? Should I write a letter similar to what Kathi wrote to her friend Felicia and what she told her? I am wondering about this. Please help me.
I read the pamphlet on "A Winning Team" and was very impressed by it. I would very much like to know about the God of Kathi, Mike, and John. So as the pamphlet stated to do, I am writing to you for this information. I hope that through you I can find the God of Kathi, Mike, and John. My sincerest thanks.
I have read the magazine called "A Winning Team." I am of another faith but would like to know how others feel about God. I would like to know more about the God of Kathi, Mike, and John. I am a captain of a cross-country team.
Letters upon letters, all answered by Dave, who had promised to "take their place."
Table of Contents || Chapter Twenty-two