Blake Bivens was with his Montgomery Biscuits team in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this past August when he was told he needed to hurry home to Virginia. When he got to the airport, he checked Facebook.
“First headline I see is two females and a small child were gone,” Bivens said Sunday, recounting the experience for The River Church in Danville, Virginia. “I immediately knew that was them. I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline. I just immediately began to scream in the middle of the airport.”
Soon, it was confirmed that the Tampa Bay Rays Double-A pitcher’s wife Emily, 1-year-old son Cullen, and Emily’s mother Joan Bernard were found shot and killed. Matthew Bernard, Emily’s brother, was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
“I think the hardest moment for me was when I got home and I walked in my son’s bedroom for the first time and realized I was never going to see him on this earth again,” Bivens said Sunday. “That was the worst moment in my life. Nothing ever will come to being, to feeling the way I felt at that moment. Then again, I know I will see him again one day, and it won’t be long.”
Bivens clung to his faith in Christ in the immediate aftermath, and shared with The River Church the comfort he’s found in John 16:33, in which Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“And when I read, ‘Take heart, for I have overcome the world,’ it changed, it completely flipped a switch in my heart,” Bivens said. “And from that moment on I knew that this was not going to beat me, this was not going to beat family. I was going to live in victory the rest of my life, and I was going to use this as a testimony to show what He has done for me He can also do for others.
“That moment for me was one of the biggest moments where I just knew God was with me, and the only thing I knew to do was just laugh in the enemy’s face, because he thought he had won. But all he’s done is awoken a sleeping giant and as long as I’m here on this earth, every day I wake up, my goal is to pile-drive him right in the face every morning when I get up.”
Emily was a devout follower of Jesus and a contributor to BaseballChapel.org. Blake wrote to her in a social media post days after she passed, “Emily, my sweetheart, you are the best wife and mother this world has ever seen. You made me into the man I am today and you loved me with all of my flaws.”
Like the rest of the baseball world, Bivens is awaiting a return to the game. He was in spring training when the coronavirus outbreak began. Since his family was killed, he has also spent time playing in Australia. And he continues to honor his family.
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Happy 4th Anniversary @emily.bivens ! As I was looking through our wedding pictures it’s hard not to reminisce on our short time together. What really stands out to me is how much of a better person I have become because of you. Very few people have lived a life full of so much love and compassion for other people. You would have given everything we had away if it meant changing someone else’s life. And in away you have; so many people have felt Christ’s love through your life. Though your not physically here God’s purpose for your life shines bright and clear. I love you so much! Give our little Angel a kiss for me and tell him how much his daddy loves him. Can’t wait to see y’all again!