Crime & Public Safety

Beaufort County teen’s funeral transforms grief into a celebration of God and hope

Missing Beaufort County teen Malik Spencer’s body has been found. Here’s what we know

The remains of Malik Spencer were identified on Feb. 5, 2019. The Lobeco teen had missing since Dec. 18. Here's what we know.
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The remains of Malik Spencer were identified on Feb. 5, 2019. The Lobeco teen had missing since Dec. 18. Here's what we know.

Malik Spencer’s memorial and funeral were not times for wallowing in sorrow but instead moments to fuel grief into a hope for tomorrow.

For his loved ones, it was a time to sing, dance, yell God’s praise and be reminded of what could be done, even in, seemingly, the darkest hour.

It also was a warning.

“After the homecoming — the war begins,” Malik’s pastor Randy Roberts said Friday. “I’m going to make the devil regret snatching one of my sheep.”

Spencer, 18, of Lobeco, went missing on Dec. 18. His body was found in Bamberg County on Jan. 22. An autopsy report says he died of gunshot wounds.

Police have said his death is an apparent homicide.

No one has been arrested for Spencer’s murder.

Spencer is one of multiple young black men killed by a gunshot this year in Beaufort County.

His memorial and funeral were as much a reminder of his life as they were a call to the community for change.

The quiet whispers of a church filled for a funeral were sharply replaced Saturday as Love House Ministry Choir set the tone for a different type of event.

Malik was heavily involved with the music ministry at church, as he worked the sound board every Sunday and for other church events.

The words to “How Great is Our God” flowed through the church from the mouths of the choir who knew Spencer well.

Hundreds of funeral attendees stood, clapped, swayed and sang their praise joyfully.

At a moment when the momentum felt it could not go higher, Spencer’s parents entered. They moved down the aisle surrounded by family and friends.

Michelle Spencer-Ransom, Spencer’s mom, smiled and danced joining in the celebration of God and what good was yet to come in a world left without her only child.

It was an organized, yet, free-flowing statement that the community would not be broken.

Spencer was a senior at Whale Branch Early College High School at the time of his death. He worked at Wendy’s and as a counselor at a summer camp through Beaufort County Pals.

He worked at the county’s voter’s registration board.

A majority of his time was spent involved in youth and music ministries at church.

He was remembered at the services as someone who was always well-mannered, dressed meticulously and dedicated to his church family.

Roberts spoke Saturday about a sermon Spencer gave to his church just months before his death. The sermon focused on choosing who you spend your time with wisely.

“One of the troubles I had was not having a father around, who passed away when I was three-years old,” Spencer said in a video of the sermon. “But my mother was always there providing for me. My heavenly father has always been there for me always.”

Spencer went on to quote scripture in the sermon, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.”

He goes on to warn about negative people.

Saturday, Roberts used Spencer’s message to call for the community to make better decisions.

“We are all guilty of hanging around people we shouldn’t,” Roberts said. “Don’t we all gamble? We all roll the dice. Sometimes you do not get a do over.”

Teresa Moss is a crime and public safety reporter for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. She has worked as a journalist for 16-years for newspapers in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.