Young Family Killed In I-80 Crash Was Heading Into Five Weeks of Mission Training

A Minnesota couple and their 3 children killed in the multi-vehicle crash in western Nebraska on Sunday had completed 14 days of missionary training; were members of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis

Jamison and Kathryne Pals, both 29, and their children, Ezra, 3, Violet, almost 2, and 2½-month-old Calvin were killed on Interstate 80 west of Brule when their westbound minivan was struck from behind by a semitrailer truck. The force of the collision pushed the two vehicles into three other westbound vehicles.

 

The Minnesota couple killed in the multi-vehicle crash in western Nebraska on Sunday had completed 14 days of missionary training and were heading into five more weeks of classes.

Jamison and Kathryne Pals, both 29, and their children, Ezra, 3, Violet, almost 2, and 2½-month-old Calvin were killed on Interstate 80 west of Brule when their westbound minivan was struck from behind by a semitrailer truck. The force of the collision pushed the two vehicles into three other westbound vehicles.

The semi driver, Tony Weekly, 53, of Baker, Florida, is scheduled to appear in Keith County Court this afternoon. He has been arrested on suspicion of five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide.

The Palses intended to serve as long-term missionaries in Nagoya, Japan. They were headed to Palmer Lake, Colorado, for a five-week session on learning a language and assimilating into another culture, said Dennis Vogan, an official with the ministry organization WorldVenture. After moving to Japan and becoming fluent in Japanese, they would work full-time with 13 other missionaries, he said.

“The Palses fit perfectly within our organization,” said Vogan, vice president of personnel development with WorldVenture. The missionaries in Japan “were thrilled and looking so forward to their coming,” he said. “It’s not just been devastating here, it’s been devastating in Japan.”

The Palses previously completed a 10-day program on WorldVenture’s operation and another four-day training session about how to raise financial support, Vogan said.

The Palses had raised enough money to fund their mission work, which was to start in October, Vogan said.

The family’s home church, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, posted a statement on its website addressing the deaths of the family.

“We weep and mourn and ache together as their church family in a very specific way,” the statement reads. “Some look at death and see a tragedy — the tragic end of all their hopes and dreams. As Christians, we look death in the face and see ultimate victory, not tragedy, because Jesus defeated sin and death for all of his people. Facing death without Jesus is an eternal tragedy — weeping that never ends.

“And so, while we grieve, we rise up with resurrection faith as we embrace together our blessed hope that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. And so, we celebrate the fact that the Pals family is not dead, but more alive than ever because of the grace of God that is ours in Jesus Christ.”

The church said the Pals family is working on funeral arrangements. Bethelem Baptist will announce when details are finalized.

A Gofundme page has been set up to take the family’s ashes to Japan and support missionaries there.

‘They had a heart for people’

Karen Pals, Jamison Pals’ sister-in-law, said the couple had made a commitment to live in Japan, coming home for visits about every four years.

“This (the move to Japan) was going to be a permanent thing,” she said. “They were very committed to their work.”

Rick Pals of Hugo, Minnesota, Jamison’s father, said his son became interested in missionary work in Japan after hearing Michael Oh, a Korean-American pastor, speak. The Palses would have been affiliated with Christ Bible Institute in Nagoya, Japan.

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