Hello, I'm David Knapp
This is my story.
From Iowa farm boy to missionary trainer
I was born in small-town Iowa and had a happy childhood on the farm until the day my Dad was killed in a farming accident.
That was my first taste of grief.
God's call on my life came early and I chose to attend Bible College right out of high school. While there, I had the opportunity to go to Urbana, a big missions conference for college students, where I learned about overseas missions and the huge need for people to carry the Gospel to the unreached places in the world.
It lit my heart on fire and I told God that I wanted to be a part of what He was doing.
It was at Urbana that I met Ruth, a nursing student who I would end up marrying upon graduation. We joined New Tribes Mission (now called Ethnos 360) and completed their training, thinking we were headed overseas to the mission field.
But God had other plans and we stayed on with New Tribes Mission as trainers, and I eventually became the chairman of one of their Bible Colleges in Jackson, MI.
It was there we discovered she had cancer, and after a 7-year battle, she passed away, leaving me a widower with 4 children at home.
My grief was overwhelming, and I was trying to walk this painful road not just for myself, but with my kids as well.
As I leaned into the grieving process, God met me and the healing slowly began.
Through a mutual friend, I was introduced to Judith. She was also a widow, as her husband had passed away a few years earlier to cancer.
Like me, she also had four children, and had walked through the valley of grief.
We married shortly after and began the process of blending a family of 8 teenagers, with all the highs and lows that come with it.
As our children grew, we delighted in discipling them in their walks with God and rejoiced each time one of them married or added another grandchild to our rapidly growing family.
We continued our ministry of training at Frontier School of the Bible in LaGrange, WY, and also started a few businesses.
Then, the unthinkable happened when she, too, was diagnosed with cancer.
My heart cried, "Really, Lord? AGAIN?!"
After 20 years of marriage, she went home to be with the Lord, and I was left to grieve the loss of my second wife.
Someone asked me if it was going to be easier or harder to grieve the loss of my wife, as I had walked this road once before.
The truth is, it was going to be harder, and I knew it. This time, I knew how deeply I was going to have to hurt and I was dreading it.
But God is faithful, and as I leaned into the grief process, He walked me through it once again.
Finding love again...and becoming a family of 10
Transforming loss into purpose
I'm not sure how I got to be so blessed, but God gave me the chance to love again when he brought Crystal Wacker into my life.
She has been the perfect partner for me in this season of life!
Shortly after we married, I began hearing a common theme from people who had watched me walk through seasons of loss: "Dave, I'm sorry I pulled away when you were hurting, I just didn't know what to say."
And it struck me: I do know what to say. I know exactly what people said to me that had hurt, and what people had said that had actually been healing & helpful.
And I decided to write a unique book based on my experience of grief.
Crystal was a tremendous help and encouragement to me through the writing process and the book "I Didn't Know What to Say" was born.
I am passionate about sharing this message so you CAN know how to walk through grief with the people you love.
Get resources, encouragement, and updatesabout how to be a better friend to someone who is experiencing loss:
Crystal Wacker Knapp
David & Crystal reside in Mesa, AZ, where they are active in their church.
Crystal is the editor of Reach Up Magazine, with is a publication specifically created for the encouragement & education of marginalized women.
David continues to serve as a representative for Ethnos 360, in addition to teaching & speaking about grief & loss.
They enjoy spending time with their 8 children & their spouses, their 27 grandchildren, and their first great-grandson whenever possible.