A Moment of Joy Shattered by Sorrow

By Stan Friedman

BROOKLYN CENTER, MN (November 28, 2012) – Beatrice Wilson fled her poverty stricken, war-torn native Liberia a dozen years ago. She became something of a “grandmother” to many in the Liberian community that continued to settle in the Minneapolis area.

Wilson began attending Brookdale Covenant Church in 2003. She was part of the October 28 worship service this year, which included an emphasis on the Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision initiative, a child sponsorship and community development project.

The service was a joyous experience (click here to read more). When it was over, Wilson could hardly wait to talk with Reesheda Washington, the Covenant Kids project director.

“She came up and she was just beaming,” Washington recalls. “She was so excited about what we are doing.”

Associate Pastor Renee Franzen recalls, “She was standing, smiling, watching all the activity at the sign-up table, and her smile was so beautiful I could not help but give her a hug and a kiss.”

After talking with Washington and Franzen, Wilson returned home to her duplex. It was there that she and her 13-year-old grandson, Peter, were murdered sometime early the following morning.

Peter and another grandson, who escaped, lived at the home with Beatrice, who was 57 years old. Her 22-year-old son, Ishmael Roberts, has been charged in the slayings. He was Peter’s uncle.

A funeral service for Beatrice and Peter was held Saturday at the church and led by the congregation’s pastor, Chris Icenogle, and several Liberian pastors. A community, including a City Council member and a state representative, gathered to mourn and be inspired by her faith.

“She was a very compassionate person and had a strong faith,” Icenogle said.

They were traits that Peter shared. The principal at Ascension School, where he attended, told a reporter, “He was a shining star. He always had a big smile on his face. In the mornings, he would go around outside while they were waiting to come inside. He would go around giving everybody a hug and asking them how was their day.”

Friends and relatives are leaning on their faith to help them through their loss. “The pain and the grief and the anger are especially hard in a tragedy like this, but we trust in God,” Icenogle said.

The Sunday after the slaying was All Saints Day in the church year. “We celebrated All Saints Sunday with a renewed commitment to live as ‘prisoners of hope,’ people who are called to love the world and its children,” Franzen says.

All Saints also points to the promise of a joyful eternity with God. Brookdale, like many churches, has a tradition of reading the names of members who have died during the previous year.

Beatrice and Peter’s names were the last to be read.


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  1. What a sensless act to such a lovely Woman of God. Never met her nephew Peter Jr but I am certain he was a fine young man. I pray for the family,church community and all connected. I had the pleasure of meeting her and her smile is what I remember most. Lord I pray for her son to come into atrue understanding of what he has done and turn to you for the rest of his days so he maybe an effective witness for you. That his hope is in you Christ Jesus.

  2. This is so heartbreaking. My prayers go out to Beatrice and Peter’s family and friends as they try to make sense of this horrific tragedy and mourn the loss of their loved ones and friends.

  3. This is a truly sad story but I just know out of these sensiless deaths will come some redemption for the community. May God grant peace to all who knew and loved these dear people.

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