SIDNEY, Ill. (WCIA) — The death of a teenager has influenced his family and friends in a new way.
“Whenever I came out of the water it symbolized a rebirth to me,” says Toby Traxler.
18-year old Carl Parks, Jr., died in a car accident last Thursday. Now his friends have found a sense of peace after they were baptized in his honor. His parents, Heather and Carl, have seen a glimpse of joy because of it.
He’s known to his loved ones as C.J. He was a hunter, fisherman and athlete; but, it was what he did among his friends and family that made a true difference.
Fresh flowers can be seen when driving down County Road 900 in Parks’ honor.
“He was the best friend a guy could ever ask for and he’s going to be missed,” says Kyle Curtis.
They say he was a true friend who knew the best pick-me-ups.
“He gave the best hugs and smelled the best. I could never wait to give him a hug. But he would never let me stay down. He would always make me laugh about everything. There was never a dull moment with him,” says Myla Stacy.
While he’s gone too soon, he taught everyone around him something about life.
“I’m thankful I got as long as I did with him. One thing he taught me that I’ll carry on with me forever is that he taught me the value of friendship,” states Curtis.
Parks believed in God, but wasn’t outspoken about it. His friends say if you knew him, you could tell he was on a faithful path.
“He was always happy. Always trying to get other people to be happy and just seeing that in him makes you want to be the same way as what C.J. was,” says Traxler.
It wasn’t what he said, but how he lived.
“I had two people tell me C.J. kept them from committing suicide,” says Carl Parks, Sr.
Now almost 40 people were baptized by his father.
“Baptism doesn’t save you. It’s that expression of the inward decision, the inward decision that you make in your heart is what saves you. You hear the gospel and you respond,” states Carl Parks, Sr.
His friends call it a rebirth.
“I felt great when I was done. I came out of the water. I felt closer to God, Carl and Heather. I just know one day that I’m going to see C.J. again,” says Stacy.
It wasn’t just C.J. Parks’ life which has helped people make the decision to be baptized.
“Seeing Carl and how faithful he can be through this hard time and seeing how faithful Heather can be. It just changes you. You want to be like that. You want to change and you want to be able to go through a hard time and see the goodness through it,” states Traxler.
Goodness through a friend who lived a life full of memories with his faith by his side.