Nathan's Story – Faith of Saints, Failure of Satan

by Steven F. Deaton

The following will exhibit the faith and example of Christians. It concerns the Ing family, members of the Hebron Lane church of Christ in Shepherdsville, KY. Paul is a deacon and song leader who labors diligently and has helped many people—mainly by doing work on their cars. Missy is a loving, supportive, devoted wife and mother. Marissa (8) is a wonderful young girl with a sweet smile. Nathan (5) is a young boy full of life and joy. This could be any one of us and has been sobering.

On Wednesday night December 13 after services, the Ing family was at home getting ready for bed. Nathan was in socked feet play fighting on laminate floors. He slipped and hit the front left side of his face on the floor. He immediately vomited and complained of the back right side of his head hurting. Paul and Missy then took him to the local hospital. When they arrived, they had to wait thirty minutes before Nathan was taken back and given a CT scan. They immediately arranged for him to be life-flighted to Kosair Children Hospital, stating he likely had hemorrhaging of the brain.

Before being transported, Nathan became unresponsive and his breathing became diffi cult. The doctors at the local hospital had to stabilize him then sent him on the helicopter ride. At Kosairs, they did another CT scan and then an MRI (this was around 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Thursday) and informed the family that he had a large brain tumor. Surgery was to take place within an hour or two. However, the doctors came back and said it was delayed until the next day. The parents, family, and all of us were devastated. It was a time of helplessness. We could only turn to God.

Thursday they ran more tests and decided to operate on Saturday morning at 8:30. The family was told that Nathan was at risk for extensive blood loss during the operation there were many blood vessels running through the tumor.

The elders called members to a prayer service on Thursday night, less than twenty-four hours from the time we learned of Nathan’s condition (cf. Acts 12:4, 5). The congregation turned out en masse. We prayed and read Scripture (1 Pet. 5:7). It was emotional and strengthening. One person noted that Satan would try to use this against the faith of Paul and Missy (1 Pet. 5:8). We recorded the service so Paul and Missy could listen to it later.

Saturday came in what seemed like mere moments. Scores of brethren as well as many from Paul’s family (not Christians), gathered for the surgery. Fear and anxiety filled us all, especially Nathan’s parents. Thankfully, we had the large waiting room to ourselves and were easily able to pray and read Scripture as requested by Paul and Missy. It was during this time, a six-hour surgery, that Paul and Missy went off privately to listen to the prayer service. In response, Paul wrote the following that is worthy to be read by one and all.

To our brethren, I cannot put into words the love that me and Missy have felt in what I can easily say is the most diffi cult experience of both of our lives. I’m writing this even as the surgeons are removing my son’s tumor so I cannot yet say what the outcome may be. But this I do know and want you to know as well, Satan has no victory here. Though we are but flesh and blood we have found such strength that we could not have imagined possible. That strength comes from God and from all of you. That strength has enabled us to focus on the good possibilities and not on the bad that has occurred or may occur. Satan would have us to question our God, to blame Him in anger, to lie stagnant in our self pity. He has failed. Our faith is strong. Regardless of the outcome, we see that much good can come from this. Yea, much good fruit has already been produced. This has given opportunity for us to show our love to one another. My brother Chico, who has lived his life as a reprobate is looking hard at his own life. Even today he is moving back home to be reconciled to his wife. My brother Shane has been prejudiced against the Lord’s true church. The outpouring of love and support you have shown has touched him deeply. It is opening his heart to ask questions in a more honest way than ever before. These are only a few examples.

Missy and I are both convinced that if our son goes to meet our Lord in eternal rest good will yet come.

In Christ in love,

Paul and Missy Ing

What faith! Would You or I do as Well?

It turned out the doctors were unable to remove the entire tumor that day because of bleeding. However, they said, they believed the tumor was benign. The next surgery turned out to be Wednesday, December 20 and lasted about nine hours. The rest of the tumor was removed. The Lord had safely led Nathan through two very serious operations.

After lab work was done, the doctors came back and said Nathan’s brain tumor was malignant, not benign. The offi cial name is Choroid Plexus Carcinoma. It occurs in about 0.3% of childhood brain tumors. There are only about six cases where the children have lived long enough to receive treatment. Nathan is now undergoing heavy chemotherapy. The concern is that the tumor, being aggressive, will return soon.

At the time of this writing, Nathan has healed very well from the surgeries and came through his fi rst chemo treatment without any adverse side effects. His second treatment begins in a couple of weeks and a MRI is scheduled before the third treatment. He has had problems with vision in his left eye, likely due to one of the surgeries, that the doctors are unsure if it will come back. As a bystander, I must say the outpouring of love by brethren far and wide has been over-whelming—as it should be. We are here to comfort one another and weep with together (2 Cor. 1:3, 4; Rom. 12:15). Paul and Missy, as you can see from above, have held up well, maintaining their faith in God.

Sunday, the day after Nathan’s fi rst surgery, a sermon was preached with his situation in mind. Tears fl owed. Two members came forward to confess sin (Jas. 5:16). One of these then had the privilege of baptizing his daughter into Christ mere moments later (Rom. 6:3, 4).

Times like these remind us in a very real, even harsh, way what life is truly all about—fearing God and keeping his commandments (Eccl. 12:13). We have no promise of tomorrow, neither do our children. We may lose our life at any time. We may lose our loved ones at any time. It is hard to imagine how anyone could face such a time without depending on God. The thing is, do not wait until such tragedy strikes before turning to God. If it is your life that is lost, it is too late. If it is the life of one you love, you will regret not leaning on God sooner.

Please pray for Nathan, Paul, Missy, and Marissa. If you wish to send a message of encouragement you may do so by emailing Paul at paul.ing@vgreed.com. I will be sure to pass it on to the Ings. If you want to send a card or help them in any way, please send it to:

The Ings
P.O. Box 854
Shepherdsville, KY 40165
Truth Magazine LI: 5 p. 8-10
May, 2007

A Brother in Christ Is Executed

W. R. Jones

(Houston Post, 8-2-99) – Ricky Blackmon, set to die Wednesday for the robbery-slaying of a Shelby County man who was stabbed and slashed with a homemade medieval-style sword in 1987. Blackmon, 41, the first of the half-dozen this month to face the lethal needle, says his death, likely to occur Wednesday because all his appeals are exhausted, is the best thing that could happen.

“Every young man on death row should give thanks to God when they get an execution date,” he said. “If they wanted to punish me, that would be a life sentence. They are giving me a way out. I’m thanking God for it.”
Blackmon acknowledges hacking to death Carl Rinkle, 26, at Rinkle’s Shelby County home in far East Texas the night of March 28, 1987, and taking about $600 in cash and a small pistol.
The murder weapon was a 3-foot long serrated-edge steel sword the former sawmill worker made out of a saw blade. He blamed a girlfriend, jealousy, drugs, and a need for quick cash for the attack that left Rinkle butchered. Blackmon’s girlfriend, who had been seen with the victim earlier in the evening, was arrested and led police to Blackmon. She wound up with a life prison term.

The son of a preacher, Blackmon, who was wearing a black ninja outfit at the time of the killing, said he spurned father’s teachings until he arrived on death row. He’s looking forward to his death. “I’m going to a much better place,” he said. “I’m going to heaven. No doubt in my mind.”

Now, let us hear the rest of the story.

There is nothing good that can be said about this atrocious crime which was a working of Satan in his heart. Now, let us hear the rest of the story. I have made the journey from my home in Conroe, Texas to Huntsville’s Ellis #1 unit a good many times to visit Ricky Don and study the Word of God with him. He constantly studied the Bible and was always thrilled to see me that we might pray and study the Word together for about two hours.

Bob Pulliam, who preaches for the Woodland Hills church in Conroe, made these journeys with me. While I studied with Ricky Don, Bob taught another death row inmate. Ricky was a handsome man with a very clean and neat appearance. He was usually upbeat in spite of the circumstances. At the end of our sessions I would ask the guard to let me buy him a soft drink which was handed to him through a very small door. I never shook his hand. The nearest we came to contact was to place our hands opposite on the heavy steel wire that separated us. I had the opportunity to meet his parents while preaching a meeting at the 84th Street church in Oklahoma City. They drove quite a distance to attend two nights of the meeting. Not too long after that brother Blackmon, a gospel preacher, passed suddenly from this life. Of course, Ricky Don could not attend the funeral. They were godly people and according to Ricky they did what they could to bring him up in the right way. Parents should not be blamed for ungodly children when they have done their best to rear them in God’s way. Leon Goff baptized Ricky “into Christ” when he was a young man. After the execution his body was taken to Mt. Pleasant, Texas where Leon Goff and Larry Bilbo spoke at his funeral. A number of preachers and other Christians visited with him on various occasions. David Banning, who once preached at Huntsville and became friends with Ricky Don had been asked to witness the execution. Arnold Cochran, the present preacher at Huntsville, and David spent some time with him on Tuesday and on Wednesday before the execution time.

Ricky Don told me that when he was 17 years of age he rebelled against the Lord and his parents and refused to listen to their advice. He said, “Don’t blame my parents.” “Don’t blame the prosecuting attorney, he was just doing the job he was elected to do, nor the jury which simply acted on the evidence they heard. I alone have sinned.” Certainly, there were other wicked factors that helped provoke this crime, but he did the deed and he has paid the price of earthly punishment.

He did not try to hide his sins. He is the only prisoner I have dealt with who fully and completely acknowledged his wrong. Most inmates, to hear them tell it, were framed, mistakenly identified, just happened to be in the wrong place, or were abused as a child. Not so with Ricky, who said, “I am guilty, I deserved to be punished.”

He was penitent over his sins. If his language was true, and I believe it was, he was as sorry for what he did as the apostle Paul was for persecuting and killing Christians before his conversion. Ricky constantly apologized and prayed that God would forgive him for his terrible deed.

He was constantly trying to teach others. I sent him the Messenger every week. He read every word and passed it around to others as much as possible. I sent him articles, and others did also, which he used to teach those around him. Sometimes he was discouraged because others would not listen to the Truth, but he kept on trying. He wrote many letters to warn young people where he made his big mistake. If I knew of a young person who was getting on the wrong track, I would send him their address and he would send them a letter with some of the best advice one could read. I have read some of his letters to young people in various places and they were astonished. God alone knows how many young people may have been saved from ruin from his letters. Ricky has departed this life by reason of civil punishment, At the execution hour I could only think of Martin Luther King’s words; “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”

Young friends, there are three mistakes Ricky made when he was a young man. I urge you to beware of these three snares. He decided to leave God out of his life. Of course, God has been back in his life for a decade, for which we are grateful, but there was a time when God was not in the picture. It isn’t that he has not repented and that he cannot be saved, but just look at the price he has paid. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8). Some of this reaping can take place in this life – what a price to pay. My young friends, don’t make this mistake.          

He decided that he would not listen to his parents. Children are not qualified to run their own lives, they need the guidance of good parents. Here is the reason why: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Prov. 6:20). My young friends, don’t make this mistake. He chose to run with the wild crowd. The wild crowd will promise you great things, but they always bring you to a bitter end.

My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us, let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof (Prov. 1:10-19).

My young friends, don’t make this mistake.

Let us profit from Ricky Don’s mistakes. Let us learn and profit by the way he turned his life around. He is gone, but his lessons remain. Our sympathy to his mother and brothers and sisters.

From The Messenger, Decker Prairie Church of Christ, Pinehurst, Texas, August 8, 1999

Originally published Truth Magazine October 7, 1999