You can hardly turn on the television these
days without hearing the word repentance. Its become, thanks to the Washington
scandal, a hot topic. And pastors all over the country are being asked, "How do you
know when someone is truly repentant?"
A few months ago, a Virginia man answered
that question more eloquently than all the pastors combined.
On the surface, Daniel Crocker was the typical suburbanite. He had a wife and two kids
and a good job as a warehouse manager. But Crocker had a dark secret: Nineteen years ago,
he took the life of a Kansas woman named Tracy Fresquez.
Over the years, the burden of this secret became intolerable. Eventually, Daniel
Crocker turned to God for forgiveness, became a Christian, became active in an evangelical
church, and he and his family grew wonderfully in their faith. But he could not bring
himself to tell the police about his terrible crime.
It was when Daniel began ministering to a prison inmate that he came under conviction.
One day after Daniel returned home from a prison visit, he prayed with his wife,
Daniel then began planning how to go about surrendering to the authorities. For
assistance, he turned to the Rev. Al Lawrence, a Prison Fellowship staff member and
assistant pastor of a local church. Lawrence is an ex-offender himself, and he counseled
Crocker and helped prepare him for prison life.
Lawrence told the Washington Post why Crocker was taking this extraordinary step:
"(Crockers) faith," he said, "told him he had to deal with that part
of his life that hes been skirting over the years."
For Crocker, the hardest part was telling his children, nine-year-old Isaac and
eight-year old Analiese, why he had to leave them. As the children tearfully begged him
not to go, Crocker, himself in tears told them: "I have to do this. Id be a
hypocrite if I raised you by the Word of God and I didnt (turn myself in)."
So last week Crocker boarded a plane for Kansas, where he was met by startled
prosecutors and charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutor Paul Morrison says that while
Crocker will receive credit for turning himself in, "he also did a horrible
thing" for which he ought to be held accountable.
The apostle Paul writes that "godly sorrow leads to salvation and brings no
regret." By contrast theres "worldly sorrow": grief over being
caught, not over having sinned. Paul warns that this kind of sorrow "produces
The Crockers remarkable story is a timely lesson in what it means to repent. The
kind of repentance Paul describes produces changed hearts and changed lives. It
doesnt ask, "what can I get away with?" but rather "how do I make
things right?" I talked with Nicolette, and her faith is rock-solid. She will hold
that family together while Daniels away.
But they need our prayers and support.
You might want to share this extraordinary story with your neighbors. At a time when
words no longer seem to mean what they used to, the Daniel Crocker story will help people
understand the difference between bogus repentance and the real thing.