SYCAMORE – The Rev. Charles Ridulph knows about living through dark times in life.
Ridulph’s sister, Maria, was kidnapped Dec. 3, 1957, from Sycamore when she was 7 years old and her body was found in rural Jo Daviess County five months later. The killer has not been found, and a former police officer in Washington state, Jack McCullough, now 78, was convicted of the murder in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison. He was acquitted and released from custody in 2016 for a wrongful conviction.
Ridulph’s first book, “The Impact,” published in 2016, tells his personal experiences of the kidnapping and murder of his sister.
His recently published second book, “Overcoming the Darkness,” is a continuation of the first book’s themes. The book was published May 29 by Balboa Press.
“My second book is not based on the experiences with my sister, but it is about darkness and evil in the world and how God’s light shines through,” he said.
Ridulph will attend a book signing at Christian Connection from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28, and Saturday, Aug. 29.
Proceeds benefit the Maria Ridulph Memorial Fund, a charitable endowment fund established by the Ridulph family in January 2015. Since 2016, the fund has made it possible for 10 children to attend Walcamp Outdoor Ministries in Kingston for a week.
About the book
According to a news release, “Overcoming the Darkness” explains in Biblical detail how God’s light shines in the midst of the darkness that people experience in life.
Ridulph said he “was compelled” to write the second book after a conversation with someone at the YMCA about heaven and hell. He started writing the book in January. His granddaughter created the book’s cover art and inside art.
He decided to write the first book after speaking to several people dealing with tragedy because of murder. They suggested that he write a book of prayers.
“They planted the seed that led to me getting the message out of what I’ve experienced,” Ridulph said. “But this new book isn’t about me. It’s about sharing how I was – and how we all can be – impacted by God in our lives. It’s based on Scripture passages that relate to circumstances and experiences we’ve all had in our lives.”
Ridulph said the book opens with a family trip to a coal mine in West Virginia, where he experienced physical darkness.
“The darkness was overwhelming, and it’s even more so when it comes to spiritual darkness,” he said. “Darkness is real in our lives. It takes one instant of tragedy to overshadow all the blessings, and that’s not God’s plan for us.”
Ridulph compares the evil and darkness in the world to “dark clouds from an approaching storm.”
“We see the storm coming and we’re fearful, but it does not have to take over,” he said. “My own experiences of darkness have happened and I’ve turned to God. The blessings he has given me certainly outweigh any darkness in my life. God lifts us up and allows us to see above the negative things. When you look above, you can still see what’s below, but it becomes insignificant.”
Ridulph said he hopes “Overcoming the Darkness” helps others who have their own struggles and have lived through dark times.
“There is evil in this world and bad things are going to happen, and that’s a fact,” he said. “But we can’t let that be our focus or our greatest fear. We can’t let it overtake us. Darkness does not prevail. Evil does not win out. Bad things happening is not the end of the world. God is the light that shines through the darkness that guides out of those bad places.”
About the author
Ridulph is a native of Sycamore. He and his wife, Diane, have a son and two daughters who, along with their spouses and three children, also live in Sycamore, and a daughter and son-in-law, along with four children, who live near Austin, Texas.
Ridulph received his theological education from Concordia University of Wisconsin, and Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He also is certified for prison ministry through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in association with Prison Fellowship. He retired as the director of Christian Senior Ministries in 2013, a ministry that he founded.
He has served as police chaplain with the Sycamore Police Department and chaplain with the Illinois Department of Corrections. Currently, he serves as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hampshire.