LEAGUE CITY, Texas (BP)–“Just tell them about David and tell them about Jesus.”
That was the advice of Linda Beverly to her pastor when he asked what he should speak about at her husband’s funeral on April 26.
Each person who spoke at the memorial service for David Beverly, a NASA engineer who was fatally shot in his Johnson Space Center office April 20 by a NASA contract employee, mentioned Beverly’s faith in God as being the fundamental element of who he was. Hundreds attended the service at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City, Texas, including people from the upper echelons of NASA’s Johnson Space Center to salt-of-the-earth motorcycle enthusiasts — a testimony to Beverly’s wide range of associations and friendships in life.
Friend and fellow biker Robert Maddocks said Beverly lived life to the fullest. His love for the Lord and his wife seemed closely rivaled by his passion for his motorcycles. Beverly and his wife Linda were members of six motorcycle clubs, attending rallies with groups and touring across the United States, Canada and Mexico on their own.
Maddocks took to task a local news account that described Beverly’s garage as a “shed littered with motorcycles.” Knowing how meticulous the engineer had been in his work, the congregation laughed at the misrepresentation. It was no shed, Maddocks declared. “It was the Garage-mahal.”
Four of Beverly’s prized bikes — including his Ducati 999S Superbike — were on display outside the church. It was a tribute to his love of motorcycles and the relationships fostered and nurtured by those bikes, Maddocks said.
Before any motorcycle rally, designated bikers perform a pre-ride. The ride, Maddocks explained, follows the route of the rally in order to check road conditions. “I’m convinced, dear friends, he is conducting the ultimate pre-ride.” And to David, he added, “We’re all going to be joining you at [God’s] rally real soon.”
Beverly’s younger brother, Bill Jackman, said of him, “He was and still is my hero.”
But before he addressed the congregation about his relationship with his brother, Jackman read from Matthew 18 where Peter asks Jesus how many times a person is to forgive an offender. It was the only allusion to the shooting during the funeral, a service pastor Randall Williams called an occasion to celebrate the life of Beverly and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.
Jackman recalled as a young boy tagging along behind his brother who was eight years older. It broke his heart when David left home for college and marriage, he said. And now, he added, “after all these years, he has left home again. He has moved on.”
Throughout the service, speakers pointed to the stalwart strength and genuine good-natured attitude of Linda Beverly.
As Linda Beverly entered the sanctuary, followed by a long line of family members just prior to the start of the service, she turned to those gathered and waved at familiar faces, smiled and waved some more.
This, the pastor said later, is not a put-on. “I can assure you Linda is not happy about this. But joy only comes from the peace, strength and serenity God can give. This is who she is because of the love and faith and strength that only God gives.”
Linda Beverly, Williams said, knows how to deal with tragedy — just as King David did with the loss of his son. Citing 2 Chronicles 12, Williams said the king’s response to the death of his child is one Linda has emulated. Questions of why horrific things happen should not interfere with a believer’s relationship with the Lord and her understanding of who God is in the midst of loss.
Williams closed the service with an invitation to salvation. Quoting 2 Corinthians 5:6-9, he said Beverly was ready to depart. “Even in his last moments he was a man of peace. He would say to you, you can have the same sense of purpose and meaning and it comes from God. Make sure you’re ready for your day of departure.”
Printed in the program were these words: “David’s faith in Jesus Christ guided him throughout his life. Those who believe in the Lord and Savior know this is but a temporary separation and that a joyous reunion awaits us with him.”
Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.