06 June 2012

You are a soul

Jay Erickson, who interned with us last year as part of his Moody curriculum, wrote this blog post on April 20th:

Oddly enough, I (Jay) have been pondering the concept of death since arriving at Chitokoloki (Zambia). Living next door to a bush hospital, we hear quite clearly the wails of mourning with each death. And these occur frequently, being about every other day.  In addition, I have been reading through Israel’s wanderings through the wilderness and all the times God’s wrath was poured out such that each time thousands were consumed, bitten, swallowed, or otherwise perished. Still again, I have been reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, which though a fictional work, deals philosophically with death. Even in eating meat here when I saw the creature alive that morning reminds me of the topic. 
 I did not plan the correlation, but it caused me to think along these lines and realize again in a new way that there is nothing sad about the death of a Christian. The only sadness (and I do not intend to belittle this aspect) is in the loss of companionship by those left behind. And yet, to contrast this, the level of tragedy is so vast for the passing of an unbeliever. To borrow from physics, it seems the “equal and opposite reaction.”
 It warms my heart to hear the frequent and fervent preaching of the Gospel here. Perhaps it is the real presence of death here that we seem so surgically removed from in the USA which is the motivation.  At any rate, I hope it will inspire me to get over those inhibitions which so easily hinder me from speaking. 
I will close with a quote from C.S. Lewis which is at the foundation of my thinking: “You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” And I know that when this body dies, my soul will get a new one.
It's a nice blog post, isn't it? I probably would have read it and said to myself, "Good reflection. Nice insights." It probably doesn't strike you as profound, either, until I tell you that he and his wife Katrina both died in a plane crash last week. His wife came with him to Haiti, along with their daughter Marina, so I had met them as well. Coral was still "in the oven," so to speak. Now the girls are headed to Seattle to live with Jay's sister, because their parents are gone. 

Mission aviation is a small community, even though we're scattered across the face of the earth. I didn't know Jay and Katrina well, but I did know them. And despite his concerns about his inhibitions in preaching the Gospel, his story is now being told through news outlets all over the internet. And more than that, his life is being told. Another missionary at the same hospital shared this story:

Once when working on the Internet here at Chitokoloki, Jay and I were trying to work through some problems with not a lot of success. In the middle of the morning Jay disappeared and was nowhere to be found. When I asked where he was I was told that he went for “Tea” with his wife. Turns out every morning at 10am, he would stop what he was doing, go back to the house and make sure that his wife left with their two young kids were ok and what was going on in their day. She was left alone at home in a foreign land with two young kids. At the time I did not think much of it, but now that they have both passed, it makes you think. The Internet now works, the issues were sorted, that is of no consequence. However, the times we spend with our families, we never know how much of that we will have. What should we put our values on, each and every day, what do I value, a few minutes with my wife, or just getting the next job done. The work and things we fill our days with will always be there, but the people may not.

"The people may not." I'm feeling that acutely, knowing three families leaving Haiti, one of whom is very dear to me. Last Friday, on my day off, I spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to organize a medical flight for one of the cooks at the Wesleyan Mission on La Gonave who had high blood sugar and trouble breathing. And just as I got my EMT to the airport, and just as David finished fueling the plane, and just as he was getting ready to leave, I got a call: "She passed away."

I can't tell you how frustrated I was.

Death is inherently frustrating. Here's Jay: he's poured years and mountains of money into getting to the field to serve God. He's there for a month and a half, and he dies in an accident. Death is inherently frustrating...and perhaps that's by design. After all, God sits patiently, separated from us, waiting until we're with him the way he meant us to be. I doubt he's frustrated, because he sees the end from the beginning, but he feels the waiting, too. "Precious in the sight of the Lord / is the death of his faithful servants," says Psalm 116. Really? Precious? As in, valuable? Desired? 

Of course it is. You don't send your Son to die for people who mean nothing to you. In fact, I'm pretty sure we mean everything to him. So did Jay, and Katrina, and our medical evacuation patient from La Gonave, and Ava. That's our message. "You mean everything to God, and you are a soul which is meant to have eternal life with him. Christ made it possible--but you make it a reality, when you believe in him." 

Please pray for comfort for Jay and Katrina's family, and that their story may speak this message loud and clear. Pray for peace for us, too--we know the dangers of what we do, but it's too easy to worry. Pray that we'd trust the Lord to take care of us, whatever His plans for us may be. 

To read Jay's blog, click here. To read more from the Chitokoloki Hospital blog, click here.


  1. Thank you for your post. We will be praying for the their family and the MAF family as they say Goodbye to Jay and Katrina who have graduated before us.

  2. Praying. In the face of the death of bodies we knew, it is not always easy to remember that their souls live on, and that they are now free from pain, worry, hunger, and are celebrating their new-found knowledge of being with God. I pray for their girls, and those now taking care of them...