Her Story: Mary-Kate Burson

When I was in high school I was in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC). One morning I went to a drill team practice with my best friend and was reconnected with Joe Burson. After that practice me and Joe talked every day. A week later we started dating. Soon after I graduated high school I knew Joe Burson was the one for me. In July 2018 we got engaged and in November of 2019, we became husband and wife. Joe was a hard worker, kind, free-spirited, and determined. 

Early on in Joe’s college experience, he decided he wanted to major in criminal justice. At the beginning of our relationship, we had a serious conversation about him becoming a police officer, so I knew all along that if we were going to be together, that was going to be his career goal. I wrestled with the idea but finally surrendered to the Lord. I trusted that God had a plan and that all would be well. He graduated college in December 2019 and swore in at Holly Springs Police Department in March of 2020. 

Our one and only vacation was a sweet time together dreaming about starting a family. We returned home and June 16, 2021 was an ordinary day. We got up as usual and I gave Joe a big hug and kiss, told him to have a good day and to be safe, and said that I would see him when he came home. I called him at 8:35 p.m. and told him I loved him, not knowing that would be the last time I talked to him. At 11:35 p.m. what should have been a routine traffic stop, turned bad very quickly. 

At 1:35 a.m. I heard a pound at my door and the doorbell rang. I opened the door and four sorrowful officers and the chaplain notified me that my husband had been murdered in the line of duty. In those early moments, I just kept remembering saying I am now a 22-year-old widow. I didn’t even know how to drive, or pay bills, and I never lived alone…ever. I just did not think I would even make it another day, but God sustained me and still is.

Jesus has provided me with the most beautiful community through Perspective Ministries and Never Alone Widows. I have so many vital relationships with those who have walked before me on this journey that have become lifeline friendships. I am grateful the Lord brought these people into my life during my darkest time and now I’m able to help people who are following after me.

The Lord has given me a platform to bring glory to His name through Joe’s horrible tragedy. I have shared my story at law enforcement and other ministry events. Because of my husband’s powerful sacrifice and walk with the Lord, 145 people have come to accept Jesus as their Savior.

I have peace that the Lord will redeem my story. He has made it so clear that neither mine nor Joe’s pain will be wasted, and that is what I cling to! And on top of that, I have been able to dig deeper into my faith beyond what I ever would have imagined. The intimacy that I have with the Lord now is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.