I have not had the words or known how to say what has been going on here. Time. We all needed some time.
On December 7th, I was called to the clinic for an emergency cardiac arrest with a code in progress. A national friend had suffered an apparent sudden cardiac arrest after kicking the soccer ball back out onto the field and then collapsing backwards. With 3 doctors, a visiting paramedic, 4 nurses, and a few CPR-trained laymen, he had the best possible care and the most ideal circumstances for survival but it was unsuccessful. Upon collecting a history, it became evident that he had had an underlying heart issue that he’d never addressed and this led to his sudden cardiac death at the age of 41.
The impact of his death was felt quite literally world-wide. His father is our Papa Graun (“Papa Ground” = landlord). He grew up on our center, attending the school here, essentially living with various families around center, and growing up with a very close group of MK friends. So close, in fact, that his parents actually allowed him to move with one of those families to the United States so that he could attend college there. In college, he met and married his love and they have had 5 sons (one in heaven at birth). As an avid athlete and with his sanguine personality, he made friends easily and has friends all over the world. Upon returning home to PNG, he moved his family back to this area. He became a leading businessman in the community and a good friend to many. He was a strong Bilip Man (“Belief Man” = Christian believer) who believed that the blood of Jesus alone could save him from his sin and restore his relationship with God. He talked frequently about his relationship with God and had a desire to see everyone know God deeply.
The impact of his life and death reminds me of a stone shattering glass–the connections and implications spider-webbing wider and wider. His death opened holes in the hearts and lives of his wife, his sons, his parents, his family, and his friends; opened holes in this community; and showed holes in the culture around us. The shock and sorrow and uncertainty left our hearts heavy with our personal loss and that of our friends.
However, from the beginning it became clear that this grieving was not without hope! We watched his wife stand at the head of his death bed, not even an hour after hearing of his death, and scream half defiantly, half rejoicing, with tears streaming down her cheeks, one arm around her sons and the other fisted in the air, “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?!” (I Cor 15:55) because she knew that her husband was now standing face-to-face with his beloved Savior, Jesus! Hope! Hope that carries the absolute assurance of certainty! Around her own grief and tears, she made sure that her sons, her father-in-law, his family, and everyone she came in contact with knew that her husband had left this body and was now standing in the presence of Jesus! She held her father-in-law’s face in her hands during his initial shock and, with tears streaming, assured him that his son was just as much in God’s hands now as when he’d been alive here on earth. Truly, “Death where is your sting?” when we know that in life or death our loved one rests in the hands of our good and loving Father!
The shock of this death in the midst of our Christmas preparations brought to light how profound this celebration really is! Without Jesus’ birth, our loss would be truly complete and without hope! But glory to God in the Highest! Life He came to bring to all mankind! True Life! Real Life! “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. …Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth peace, good will towards men!” (Luke 2: 11, 14)