Former CRC Man Executed in Georgia

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Sue Fridsma fumbled over her words, struggling to deliver one final message to her nephew, Andrew De Young, before he was executed by the state of Georgia.

Fridsma contemplated whether this visit would be her last. She did her best to put her feelings into words, waiting for prison officials to cut into her conversation with De Young.

As the hours passed and appeals were exhausted, Fridsma made peace with the moment’s finality.

“I knew there was nothing more I could say,” Fridsma said. “There was nothing more I could do.”

De Young died at 8:04 p.m. on July 21.

De Young was executed for the 1993 murder of his parents, Gary and Kathy, and his 14-year-old sister Sarah, over a $480,000 inheritance he hoped to use for a business venture. His younger brother Nathan escaped unharmed. The family had belonged to New Hope Christian Reformed Church in Dunwoody, located in Atlanta, Ga.

Fridsma, a member of Willard (Ohio) CRC, was Kathy De Young’s sister.

The day before De Young was executed, he handed Fridsma a one-page letter. He apologized for the pain he had caused. He pledged to spend the final hours of his life in prayer, although he wondered if God would hear him.

Fridsma had made the 12-hour drive from Ohio to the Georgia prison a dozen times over the past 12 years.

For Fridsma, De Young’s execution brought 18 years to an emotional close.

“It was all over, but it was sad,” she said.

De Young’s execution came nearly two decades after the three murders sent shock waves through New Hope Church, where De Young’s father served as an elder and where his mother created colorful stained glass windows.

Several families subsequently left the church, which currently includes only a few members who knew De Young.

 New Hope pastor Rev. Paul Hackett said the church council voted not to discuss the matter in the days leading up to De Young’s execution.

Fridsma has remained in contact with De Young for more than a decade. De Young’s maternal grandparents visited for 15 years until they were no longer able to travel. Both Fridsma and her mother communicated with De Young through weekly letters.

 After years of letter writing and annual visits, Fridsma left the prison one final time, still unsure of De Young’s spiritual well-being. In visits and in letters, he told Fridsma that he believed in God but that he struggled with who God is and whether he would be forgiven.

Fridsma said that Nathan had met with his brother a few times over the years, that Andrew had apologized, and that Nathan had forgiven him.

Fridsma has sensed God’s presence throughout her journey with her sister’s killer.

“God has been over this the entire time,” she said. “I just hoped that ever time we spoke to him or visited Andy that the love of Jesus Christ would come through.

“That’s all we ever wanted.”

About the Author

Jeff Arnold is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classes Kalamazoo and Lake Erie.

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Comments

The faithfulness of the Fridsmas in visiting and regularly corresponding with a grandson/nephew who killed their daughter/sister is a wonderful testimony to the power of Christ's love.

Very powerful and sad story. Not sure how a council could vote not to discuss this, or what this meant for the life of the church. I am sure the pain was intense.
I take comfort from Christ's story of the death sentence of teh criminal next to Him. TODAY!
He'sig enough to take the confusion of a condemned criminal on death row praying to the end.
For him too there is a TODAY!

I'm wondering about the comment thrown into this news article that the church council voted "not to discuss the matter" in the days leading up to the execution. Why was this sentence put in the article without further explanation? How does such a posture help/hurt the body of Christ that is New Hope Church? At the time of the De Young murders, a relative of mine was a member of that congregation... This person described knowing that the De Youngs were suffering in silence as they watched their relationship with their son disintegrate and recede, because the church community appeared unwilling to face the troubling things happening to Andy in the weeks/months leading up to the crime... One wonders if this congregation has learned anything in the intervening years about bearing one anothers' burdens with honesty and authenticity...

My husband and I were Andy's Youth Group leaders back then. My husband visited Andy and we continued praying for him but in the last days of his life enlisted believers from the International House of Prayer to cry out for his salvation. We were so encouraged he came from a legacy of faith and knew many relatives were storming the gates of Heaven on his behalf as well. These events bring back all of the memories of those dark days. But they also assure us of the hope we have because Christ's death on the cross covers ALL sins!

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