A sword pierced the heart of 60-year-old Beulah Donald.
Police officers asked her to identify the beaten, slashed, and lynched body of her son Michael on March 22, 1981. Furthermore, adding to her sorrows was the authorities’ conclusion that Michael had been murdered in a drug deal. Her son had nothing to do with drugs and she knew it.
A re-opened investigation revealed that three members of the infamous United Klans of America (UKA) conducted the lynching. Over the previous two decades, members of this organization had committed murders against Sunday school children, civil rights workers, and other U.S. citizens. And while individual Klan members had been successfully tried and convicted, the UKA remained untouchable.
Now it was happening all over again. The murderers were arrested, tried, and convicted (one died of a heart attack before his trial). But the UKA, which had inspired the attack by its second-in-command (Bennie Hays), remained unscathed. For the grieving Beulah Donald, her son had died a savage and senseless death—and the real evil remained at large.
Then the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) encouraged Mrs. Donald to file a civil suit against the UKA for instigating the murder of her son. In 1987 an all-white jury found the UKA responsible for Michael Donald’s murder and ordered it to pay $7 million to his surviving mother. This penalty immediately bankrupted the largest Ku Klux Klan organization in America.
Therefore, unable to pay its debt, the UKA, under force, dissolved and handed all its assets—including its headquarters building and warehouse—over to Mrs. Beulah Donald. However, what seemed like a nightmare out of the past and a senseless tragedy turned into an incredible victory for civil rights. Michael Donald’s death was the last racist lynching in America and signaled the destruction of the Ku Klux Klan as anything other than a spattering of ineffectual splinter groups. Even the UKA’s former Imperial Wizard, Robert Shelton, confessed, “The Klan is gone—forever!”
But isn’t God’s prevailing justice and sovereignty always accomplishing the same thing in our world? What appears at first to be a horrific and heart-breaking defeat for good is later transformed by God into a consummate victory? Paul said this in Romans 8:35–39. The apostle wrote that even when God’s people are considered as sheep for the slaughter, His all-powerful love makes them “super-conquerors” in all their afflictions, persecutions, and slayings.
Should this surprise us? God the Father took the worst tragedy of all time—the murder of His beloved Son—and turned it into the greatest redemptive act in all eternity to save mankind and ultimately destroy Satan’s kingdom (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8).
Dear Father in heaven, when defeat, humiliation, and tragedy break upon us, help Your people to remember Your flawless record in the past – that Your purpose never fails and You turn every defeat into a far greater victory. May we not lose heart or lose faith, but serve you steadfastly to the end. Amen.