It is so hard to be so far away in a time like this. Our hearts grieve that we were not there when my suegro died, and that we couldn't be present at the funeral.
But we were greatly comforted to hear my sister-in-law's testimony of the funeral.
Erika relayed to me the following (paraphrased in my own words):
"It was pouring rain. So we were surprised at the tremendous turn-out. An entire bus-load came in bringing people from the surrounding communities. The streets were lined with cars. People without cars flooded the streets to make their way to the cemetery. Olvin, (who is the only brother who has yet to commit his life to the Lord) was driving very slow so that the crowd could walk along side the car.
My sisters, my mother and I were sobbing uncontrollably and I started praying that God would flood our hearts with peace and give me the words I needed to say at the service. As I was praying I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit very strongly and all of our tears lessened as a great peace calmed us.
Then Olvin told me that I should start singing. I was so surprised that he suggested it! So we began singing praise and worship songs on the way. It was so beautiful!
When we arrived and it was time for the service I took the microphone. I began sharing about my dad's battle with cancer and how it ultimately led him to the Lord. I shared that as a family, we had peace. We were leaving his body buried in the earth, but we know that his soul is already with the Lord. We are filled with hope. I told them that many of them knew my dad as a hard person. That he had said many hurtful things to many of them present. But that we had witnessed his transformation in coming to Christ. He was filled with patience and long-suffering until the end. He endured this trial with hope and peace. And he never blamed or questioned God. Something he never would have done before he came to Christ!
I began to share the gospel and told the crowd that now was the time to receive God's salvation. I turned to Olvin and said in the microphone, 'Now is your time Olvin. Repent and surrender your heart to God'. He was sobbing and only nodded back at me.
In summary, it was a beautiful and special service. God's presence and peace was greatly felt. We are so grateful for the amazing support of the communities and all of the love they've showed us."
Wow, just wow. What an amazing testimony of God's transforming, redeeming power. What a powerful impact He has allowed this story to have on so many people. My mom reminded us that the Bible says, "death is the last enemy to be destroyed". Death is an enemy. But through this death, God brought eternal life. And we are so grateful!
Please keep us in your prayers and the grief is still very real. We have been flooded with beautiful, special memories of my suegro, and at the same time it is hard to not think of the "what ifs". In the end we have chosen to trust God in His sovereignty and perfect timing for calling my suegro home.