Chris Keith joins Upward Bound Ministries to give his testimony. Here’s his story:
Chris Keith was 5 when he was shot in the head by his father during a family murder-suicide. When officials arrived at the home 12 hours later, the family was pronounced dead at the scene. But after Chris was able to crawl closer to the doorway of his bedroom to be seen alive it was a race against time to save his young life. Chris is now 28; he is married and has a 5 year old son. His testimony presents a clear understanding that God causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him. In the words of Chris, “If you don’t believe God can create good from evil, take a look at my son, Dylan.”
Chris Keith is a survivor and his story is anything but ordinary. At the age of five, Chris became victim of a heinous crime. Air lifted by medical helicopter, he was rushed to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK, where he would endure several hours of surgery to his head and brain in attempt to save his young life. He was the only survivor and now Chris held on to every breath as if it were his last. In the days and weeks that followed, his condition improved and there were signs of hope when he began to respond and gain strength. Though it remained impossible to determine the extent of damage caused to his brain, recovery seemed promising. However, there were too many questions that remained unanswered: Would he walk again? Would he talk? What was in store for this five year old boy as he would soon learn he had lost his entire family and grow up without his eight year old brother, Michael, his mom and his dad?
On October 1, 1985, by the time officials arrived at the scene, more than twelve hours had passed since the tragedy occurred. When his mom was late for work Monday morning and did not answer the phone, his aunt drove to their house to check on them. Shocked by what she saw, she ran to the neighbor’s house and called for help. When the officers and EMT workers were dispatched, they were somewhat briefed in what they were about to witness. But when they walked through the house they were horrified by the disturbing sight of two very young boys—and two adults—their mom and dad, all pronounced dead at the scene.
The two boys, Michael (8) and Christopher (5), had both been shot in the head while asleep in their beds. Deborah, their mother, was strangled and left lifeless at edge of her bed, and Ted, husband and father, was found in the living room chair. He too had a gunshot wound to the head as he had murdered his family before turning the gun on himself to commit suicide. It was another statistic, an unspeakable act humanly impossible to survive.
Humanly impossible, perhaps, but God was beginning to reveal His purpose in this boys life. After he was shot in the back of his head and lying in his own blood for more than twelve hours, Chris somehow found strength to move from the bed, closer to the door…the direction of the voices that he could be seen, alive. In a moment, everything changed when the front door opened and the announcement was made; “We have one who’s alive!” Five year old Chris was alive and now his dangling body was held in the arms of a paramedic as she rushed the little boy toward the helicopter… the race against time to save his life.
Not expected to live through the night, he defied all odds as weeks later he was nearly strong enough to return home. Upon release, his life would never be the same with so many changes. He moved in with his grandparents where they began an uphill climb to help young Christopher put the pieces of his life back together. Actively involved in their church with a strong faith in God, his grandparents believed life without God was a life without hope. In time, Chris began to understand the meaning and importance of his faith as he was encouraged to love and trust God with all his heart, no matter the situation. He gave his life to Jesus at the age of fourteen when he made the commitment to take a stand for Christ, no matter the cost.
Chris has been blessed in his desire to walk humbly with God. Now, 28 years of age, he continues to rise above adversity and though his earthly father stole his family, Chris holds onto the promise of his heavenly Father to provide his every need. On May 13, 2000, Chris married his wife, Crystal and three years later, on December 26, 2003, their son Dylan was born. As husband and father, Chris strives to build his house upon the foundation that will weather every storm….the foundation of God’s Word…passed down from his grandparents when they began encouraging this young boy to love and follow Jesus all the days of his life.
I met Chris at Gunnison, Colorado in 1997 during a week where I lead worship for one week, of many, Christ In Youth conferences. I first heard his story earlier that summer, told by his youth pastor, and was excited to meet him weeks later. I met Chris later that summer when his church attended the week in Colorado. After sitting down to talk with him, I quickly realized he was someone everyone needed to meet as his story of faith and hope in God was powerful. I asked that he join me on stage the final night of worship where he stood humbly, in front of 2000 high school students, while I told his story. He shared a poem he had written in memory of his brother, Michael and when he concluded, the entire crowd rose to their feet to applaud the greatness of God displayed in the heart of a young man who had lost so much but continued to give all that he had.
Several years passed since I spoke to Chris but on October 5, 2008, God placed him on my heart the same night I learned Kenny Crease would be released from prison the next day. When I spoke to Chris that week I learned he had been praying for opportunities to share the testimony of God hope with others. Chris reflects often on one of his favorite scriptures; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Chris Keith is a survivor and his testimony is a story of hope beyond abandonment, forgiveness beyond betrayal, and praise to God for his life that was spared. The heartbreak of a five year old boy is being restored, day by day, through the love and mercy of a limitless God. Chris often finds himself sitting next to Dylan’s bed where he loves to watch him as he sleeps. To this day, however, he can’t help but question how a father could do such a terrible thing to his family. In the words of Chris; “If you need proof good can come from evil, take a look at my son, Dylan Michael Keith.”
Chris will be traveling with me to give his powerful testimony.
Pressing on with our eyes on Jesus,