JEFFERSON CITY – Speaking on the topic from the pulpit for the first time, Frank Page discussed the death of his 32-year-old daughter during Father’s Day services at Concord Baptist Church here.
Page, the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, said that while it was difficult for him to recount the trying period in his life, he hoped it would shed light on the problem of suicide in the church and point those struggling to the only source of hope for the hopeless: Jesus.
He began sharing that – like all fathers – he treasured his children and looked forward to a Father’s Day text or call from two of his three daughters, but not his eldest, Melissa.
I miss my baby. Badly. But I don’t have to grieve like those that have no hope.
Page said Melissa struggled with behavioral issues, addiction and depression her whole life. They all came together the day after Thanksgiving, 2009.
“Nobody loved her like me or knew her like me,” Page said. “We were so connected in so many ways; she hated me and loved me because I always knew when things weren’t right.”
She called her dad and told him she loved him.
“She asked me to tell her mom and sisters that she loved them too,” he said. “I knew something wasn’t right.”
She hung up the phone and didn’t answer when Page called her back. He rushed to her home, but when he arrived the police met him at the door and said she had already been transported to a local hospital.
“I was there by myself,” he said. “The intern on call came out and told me the news of my daughter’s passing. I got on my knees. I know the Lord knows Scripture better than I do, but I quoted Scripture to Him: ‘The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’”
Then he quoted the Lord from John 14, which became the text for a brief sermon pointing toward the only hope in a fallen, dying world: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
“Satan wants you to destroy your life and he wants you to wallow in grief and give up,” Page said. “But in John there’s a word of peace. Jesus knew we’d have trouble. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. A recent statistic showed that suicide is taking more young people than car accidents. In certain areas and ages, it’s an epidemic. Young men and young women, Jesus said to come to Him with your grief.”
Page said he still grieves for his daughter – especially on a day like Father’s Day – but knows the peace of Christ.
“I miss my baby,” he said. “Badly. But I don’t have to grieve like those that have no hope. I’m going to see her again someday. Knowing her personality type, she’ll probably ask ‘Daddy, what took you so long to get up here?’”
Though this was the first time he’s spoken on the subject to a church, Page recently wrote a book, Melissa, A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide, which tells more of the same story. Though he doesn’t tackle why suicide occurs, he does discuss questions such as is suicide an unforgivable sin, spiritual warfare and offering steps to victory in Jesus. Based in Scripture, each chapter includes a portion specifically for people who may be considering taking their own life.
“There’s only one place for help and hope in this world,” Page said. “And His name is Jesus.”