Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pastoral concerns at the death of a loved one

At 00:30 this morning I received a call from my niece, who is in her mid thirties now, that my sister, Dorothy, had died in a motor vehicle accident two hours before on her way back from a visit to Kwa-Zulu Natal. My sister, my nephew (40), and my nephew’s wife were in the car. My nephew got a few bumps, scrapes and bruises, but his wife is serious and in hospital in the town (Standerton) close to which they had the accident. They were still several hours away from home in Springs. I still do not have all the details as to how the accident happened, but that is not really that important. What is important is that I lost one of my sisters. She was 60 years old.

Life is so fleeting, just like a flower that stands beautifully one day, and then withers and dies the next. Death cannot be planned (apart from suicide), and when it comes, it is hardly ever expected.

Of course, nothing said, can take away the pain and sadness of losing someone we loved, but the fact that someone cares enough to actually try to say something is half the race won! It is in times like these that friends and others should contact those that have been left behind, even if just to listen. I remember, 11 years ago, when my dad died while we were still living in Columbus, Ohio, what brought me comfort was simply to talk about him, how I felt, and that someone actually took the time to listen to me.

Well, this morning, I decided to inform family and friends, and our head pastor, Heinz Schrader, and our home group leader, Athol van Noorden. The amazing thing, and with true pastoral concern, driven by his own love for Jesus, the first person that called me as I was driving on my way to work, was Heinz! It was a true blessing, and indeed hope inspiring that Heinz, who has many other things to tend to, took the time, almost immediately, to give me a call and to speak life giving words to me. His encouragement and empathy came through so clearly, and I am so thankful for the time he took to encourage me, and also to listen to me. A few minutes later, Athol, my home group leader, was the second person to call to also give his condolences, to encourage me, and to inform me that they as a family had already prayed for mine. These two men indeed walk with the love of Christ in their hearts and I deeply appreciate their love toward me and my family.

I would just like to say thank you to both Heinz and Athol, for caring enough and for loving enough, to pick up the phone to be part of this walk with me. I truly love you guys!

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