Rick and Sherri Burgess had the perfect life: careers they loved, five outdoor-loving kids, and a barn in the country. They were happy, until Sherri found their two-and-a-half-year-old son, Bronner, in the pool. Dead.
“I pulled him out of the water to save him. I said, ‘God please don’t take him! Please give him back!”
Sherri fell on her face on the hospital floor while doctors worked on Bronner. She repeated her cry, now an anthem ringing in heaven’s ear, “God please save him!”
Moving from the floor Sherri bowed over a chair in prayer while doctors tried to revive Bronner, believing God would bring him back. Every few moments she would look up to see if her son had a pulse. He didn’t.
Bronner was gone.
As she was praying, she felt deep inside these words: “Not my will but Yours be done.” Sherri says her heart was flooded with supernatural peace. But she was still so uneasy her body wracked with tension and still in shock. When her husband, radio personality Rick, who was away speaking at a youth conference, finally arrived, he enveloped Sherri in his arms; Rick’s faith and strength temporarily melted away her fears.
But Rick and Sherri were crushed. It was by far the most horrific night either of them had ever faced. There was so much pain. Confusion and brokenness danced around their hearts in a sorrowful melody.
Losing Bronner, Finding God
And then came the questions. So many questions. How could God allow the loss of their child?
“Why do you take children, God?” Sherri couldn’t hold back during a day of grief. “There is nothing worse than losing a child. Why my son?”
Sherri felt God respond in a very real way, reminding her that He has lost those whom He will never get back. “What about my lost?” Sherri felt God say.
For the first time since Bronner’s death, Sherri had compassion for God. And she knew that her loss was to be used for God’s glory.
Rick and Sherri’s suffering caused the Burgess family to reach out for God. No longer could she afford to be self-reliant. There was simply no strength left. She needed supernatural power. She needed to understand why Bronner was gone.
So Sherri went to the Bible. And in her search, she experienced a great knowing of Jesus and His comfort, love and peace in the midst of tragedy.
“I saw more of God in the midst of the turmoil and storm more than ever before. He was more powerful and majestic and greater than ever before.”
Bronner: A Journey To Understand
“I am not sad. I have hope and joy and peace. I want to share Jesus’ love. There is room for us all.”
Since losing Bronner, Sherri has experienced a powerful faith transformation, and she tells the story of their eight-year journey in her book “Bronner, A Journey To Understand” (New Hope Publishers). The book releases on January 19, the eight year anniversary of Bronner’s death.
In “Bronner, A Journey To Understand,” Sherri also tells the story of how the head doctor who worked on Bronner that night was led to Jesus by Rick’s inspiring faith.
And Sherri talks about how together, the Burgess family have honored the memory of Bronner by being intentional to help others in their own suffering. The Burgess family has made it their life mission to serve others with the love of Jesus. Since Bronner’s death, they have been to South Africa, Ethiopia, Israel, Nicaragua, and many other countries to help heal the hurting. Since they know the love of Jesus has been their greatest help during this loss, they desire that everyone they come in contact with know Jesus’ sustaining power.
Though the cost was unthinkable, the tragedy of Bronner’s death has served a greater purpose. Rick and Sherri Burgess’ faith has been deepened, and instead of viewing the loss as an end, they see it as the beginning of a greater knowledge of Jesus.