In Memoriam

Even though we had known each other for fifteen years, I did not talk to our neighbor, Sonia, very often. We would have a little conversation once in a rare while. We prayed together out on the street the morning of 911. I had not really talked to her much since that morning as I stood at her door early in 2007. She invited me in and our conversation took an unexpected turn.

“Rajan is an alcoholic,” she told me. I was shocked! I never suspected Sonia’s husband had a drinking problem.

“I’m thinking about a divorce,” Sonia confessed.

I was stunned as I knew Sonia is a strong, charismatic Christian and that she travelled frequently in her ministry to others. I encouraged her to trust and obey God and to stay married. By the time I left, Sonia’s mood had shifted. She was praising God and decided to stay with Rajan. I was rejoicing, too, that God had led me to her home that day to keep her from making the wrong decision.

And then, on December 31st, we were just about to start our annual family New Year’s Eve party with food, games and a movie when the doorbell rang. Mike opened the door and stepped out to talk to Sonia. In a minute, he motioned to me to join them.

Sonia was sobbing as she explained that her seven-year-old granddaughter was dead. Little Janel’s spinal cord was damaged in a car accident. She had been brain dead for three days and the family had stopped life support that afternoon.

The funeral home was packed out and overflowing yesterday. The family spoke of their trust in God and assured us that Janel knew the Lord and was now with Him.

As we start a new year and in thinking about my experience with this neighbor, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you for 2008:

• Our lives are short. I don’t know how long I will live or how long anyone else will live. Young girls and old men. Close family and distant strangers. Struggling Christians and confirmed agnostics. Today is the day to share my faith with them.

• I should not have assumed my Christian neighbors were “all right” and did not need me. I was naive to think they would not have struggles.

• I need to be in prayer and available if God would choose to use us further to help our neighbors through the difficult years ahead. I need to pray that Rajan turns to Christ and not to alcohol and that this child’s death may even be used to heal their marriage.

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