DANVILLE, Va. – For the first time, Tampa Bay Rays minor league baseball player Blake Bivens opened up about the murder of his wife, son and mother-in-law.
Bivens talked with The River Church Danville about how he learned his family had been killed and his journey of faith in the aftermath on Sunday.
Bivens, 24, had his life forever changed on Aug. 27, when his wife, 14-month-old son and mother-in-law were all allegedly murdered by his brother-in-law in Pittsylvania County.
“That morning, for me, it was complete chaos in my mind,” said Bivens who graduated from G.W Danville High School in 2014.
He said he was in Chattanooga, Tennessee that morning preparing to go to a game. When he woke up, there were no messages from his wife.
When he checked Facebook, he saw a headline that police were looking for his brother-in-law, Matthew Bernard.
Bivens said he called his parents to find out more information.
Then, within 30 minutes of reading the headline, he had talked to his team’s manager and was at the airport.
While waiting for his flight, he checked Facebook again.
“The first [thing] I see is two females and a small child are gone, and I immediately knew that was them," said Bivens. “I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline, and I just immediately began to scream in the airport.”
Within a minute of reading that headline, his team manager called him. He, along with several others from the organization, flew with him to Charlotte.
During that flight, Bivens said he was in a state of shock and disbelief.
“I would go through periods of shaking. Then I would start to lose it a little bit and start to cry," recalled Bivens. "It was just kind of a circle and the plane ride seemed like it took forever.”
Once he landed, he went to his house where he said a large group of his family was waiting for him.
“I look back and I’m extremely grateful for the people that were there at the time. It could have been a whole lot worse for me if I didn’t have anyone there,” said Bivens.
Once he was home, it was all able to sink in more for him.
“I think the hardest moment for me was when I got home. I walked in my son’s bedroom for the first time, and I realized I would never see him on this earth again. That was the worst moment of my life. Nothing will ever come close to feeling how I felt that day, and how I felt in that moment," said Bivens. "But then again I know I will see him one day, and it won’t be long.”
That sense of faith was able to help him through the difficult times.
“I think the greatest comfort for me, without a shadow of a doubt, has been knowing where my family is”, said Bivens. “I know they are in the arms of Jesus and waiting for me to be there with them.”
Bivens said he was depressed for a long time, but the Bible passage John 16:33 changed his perspective.
“When I read, ‘Take heart for I have overcome the world.’ It completely flipped a switch in my heart," Bivens recounted. "From that moment on, I knew this was not going to beat me. This was not going to beat my family. I was going to live in victory for the rest of my life. I was going to use this as a testimony to show what he has done for me, he can also do for others.”
Bivens said for a long time he felt alone in his pain, but turned to God.
“I believe one day the Lord just opened my eyes and said, you know I sent my only begotten son to the cross. I had to turn my back on him as he was brutally murdered and beaten as he hung on the cross. Imagine the pain he had to suffer going through that. If there’s someone who understands, you do. You really understand everything I’m feeling,” said Bivens.
Bivens said this experience gave him new insight into this faith.
“When we are at the midst of our biggest pain, that’s when God is moving the most. That’s when he is going to use your trouble, your tragedy," said Bivens.
He offered advice for those also going through a difficult time.
“You continue to have faith. You don’t need to understand everything that happens out of this world, but if you have faith, one day it’s not going to even matter. If you step into eternity, anything and everything that has happened to you here on this earth its going to disappear, and it won’t even be a problem to you anymore. All of our issues and all of our problems were solved that day on the cross. If just learn to lay them down and put them in his hands and continue to have faith, no matter how hard it is, he will bring us out of the biggest storms no matter how hard they are,” said Bivens.