Dick LaFever of The Dalles is hitting the road again with his message of forgiveness. He is embarking on a six-month traveling ministry talking about how he forgave his daughter’s killer.
He and his wife Dorthey leave Sept. 4 and have stops planned in numerous states across the Midwest, into New England, down the East Coast and across the South. They expect to be home by next March.
He already has arranged a number of presentations, but others will be firmed up as he travels. He began his itinerant ministry 20 years ago, and his last long tour was four months in 2013.
“I do this because I have a passion about the concept of forgiveness. It’s such an important issue, whether or not you’re a person of faith. There’s just a lot of anger in this country. Research shows the anger index—which I didn’t know they kept one—has been rising every year,” he said.
He does his presentations primarily in churches, but he also has a non-religious presentation that he makes to service clubs and other organizations.
“Forgiveness is a process, it takes time. When the feelings of anger and hurt were gone, that’s kind of what precipitated our taking the trip to Connecticut to see him in person and tell him that we had forgiven him,” he said of the killer, who was his daughter Robin’s husband.
That trip prompted LaFever to write a book about forgiveness titled, “Ultimate Betrayal: a Testimony of Forgiveness.”
His daughter was killed on Thanksgiving Day 1994, just three months after LaFever, who has been a lay minister all his adult life, performed their marriage on his own birthday, Sept. 6.
Her husband Tad was sentenced to 25 years in prison with no possibility of parole and is still in prison.
LaFever recently released an expanded edition of the book with a description of the multiple challenges to that trip, which he described as Satan trying to prevent him from carrying out God’s instruction to him to personally forgive his son-in-law.
At the talks he gives, “the reception has always been extremely positive and a lot of people come to a realization that they have been carrying anger around at people they have even forgotten about. But they realize ‘This is not healthy for me and I need to address this.’”
During his 2013 speaking tour, he recounted giving a morning and evening talk at a church. One woman came to him that evening and said she’d attended the morning presentation and got his book and read it during the day. She asked if she could have nine copies.
“She went on to explain, ‘I’m going to a family reunion in about two months and there is so much anger in my family I’m going to buy one of your books and give it to every single person.’”
He’s also had pastors ask for copies of his book after he’s left so they can use it as part of their counseling to help people with serious anger and forgiveness issues.
“And of course you can imagine how wonderful that makes me feel,” he said.
LaFever is retired from 25 years as director of special education for what is now the Columbia Gorge Education Service District.
He pays his own way on his trips, and is ordained through Cross Country Ministries, a non-denominational Christian minisry. It’s not a paid position, but he wanted to be ordained through an organization that has some spiritual accountability.
“Most places give you some kind of offering or honorarium. Whatever they can give, I don’t want that to be an issue,” he said.
He said his motivation for all he does is Romans 8:28, which says, “For we know that in all things God works for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”
Indeed, he has added to his book a list of good things that came out of his family’s tragedy.
One included him getting a regular 30-minute spot on a Christian radio station.
Another was a man who came to his daughter’s funeral and was motivated by that to reconcile with his long-estranged son.
He said he had “countless stories like this.”