Minister ‘Still Wrestling’ with his faith after murder of his wife and son

“There were mighty dark days,” recalls Les Ferguson Jr., author of a new book exploring the doubt that consumed him.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service

JACKSON, Miss. — In a few weeks, Les Ferguson Jr. will move on from the pulpit at Lake Harbour Church of Christ in Ridgeland, Miss., just north of Jackson, to a new position in Oxford, home to “Ole Miss,” the University of Mississippi.

The move and the university community, he said, offer the potential for more personal and spiritual growth. It’s also another move toward wholeness for a man whose life was fractured by tragedy nearly seven years ago.

On the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2011 — Ferguson’s 24th wedding anniversary — his wife, Karen, and the couple’s son Cole, 21, were shot to death in the family’s home in Gulfport, Miss., near the church where Ferguson was then preaching.

The apparent killer, Paul Ellis Buckman, 70, had attended the church until being charged three months earlier with sexually assaulting Cole, who had cerebral palsy. The same day that Karen and Cole were killed, Buckman was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his apartment two miles away.

“There were mighty dark days,” Ferguson remembered.

Now, he is the author of the new book “Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokenness,” which explores the doubt that consumed him after the double murder.

Ferguson couldn’t imagine ever trusting in God again, much less proclaiming the gospel from a pulpit.

He was brought back in part by the people who reached out to him to return to his calling. “You took a broken, timid, uncertain man and gave him a chance to do ministry again,” he tells the Lake Harbour congregation in the opening acknowledgments to “Still Wrestling.”

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Religion News Service is a national wire service whose media partners include The Associated Press, USA Today and the Washington Post.

Related: In ‘Still Wrestling,’ minister whose wife, son were slain explores faith, doubt

Related: Modern-day Job preaching again (reporting from Ridgeland, Miss.)

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