Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Death of Yusnan Widjaya

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus come, God will bring with Jesus all the Christians who have died.

I haven't written for some time as the past few weeks have been somewhat painful since the world and the body of Christ lost Yusnan Widjaya. It was my honor to have been is pastor and for at least a short time, witnessed the quality person he was.

But, I need to begin in 2004 when I first meet Farid, his brother and Winny, Farid's finance at the time. As many of you know I spent the past number of years planting a church and working with a number of wonderful young adults. This wonderful couple came to my church in 2004.

As memory serves me you need to know that some Christians parents in Indonesia wanted their children to have a college education in the US in a school they felt they could trust from such a great distance. They sent these children to Pensacola Christian College in FL. Farid was one of the first and many have followed. When Farid and Winny graduated they made their way to Lancaster County PA to find employment and in time they made it to our church. Farid was a talented musician and joined our worship team playing the keyboard.

I remember well the first time Farid lead worship at our church. It was the first time he lead worship in an English Church. A few months later circumstances created a need and Farid responded to our invitation to become the leader of our worship ministry. This is a role he continues to fill with grace and humility.

When Farid and Winny married they went home to Indonesia for a wedding there but also had an English wedding service in PA. I conducted that ceremony. As Farid continued to serve our church his brother came to Pensacola Christian College and Farid stood in support of his brother in many ways.

Then last May after graduation, Yusnan and his girlfriend moved to Lancaster in search of jobs as well. Before anything they plugged right into our church. Yusnan was also musically talented and joined the worship team mainly playing base.

It was with great excitement that he got his job in Baltimore as an electrical engineer. He rented a place between Lancaster and Baltimore but was in church every Sunday with Mega. She was working and living in the Lancaster area. They were such a sweet couple. Both very loving, caring, tender hearted and humble.

When I announced that Vicki and I were going to conclude our ministry at New Hope. It was Yusnan and Mega who found me in my little office and came to share their love and respect for their pastor. While most were never able to process our leaving - they showed their love and expressed their sorrow at our leaving immediately. Farid and Winny were not far behind along with their new little boy Jackson.

During this time Farid and Yusnan's younger brother began college in FL just like his brothers before him.

Then the world of this wonderful family was torn apart when Yusnan in his early 20's was killed in a auto accident coming home from work on a rainy night. He was so happy to have his job and so happy to have Mega and then it was all over - a young life gone.

So many of us have just been in shock for the last couple of weeks. Farid and Mega had to go identify the body, there was a viewing in PA, flying the body back to Indonesia, Mega and Farid's youngest brother flying home as well. My heart goes out to Farid and his family and to Mega whose dream of a life with Yusnan is gone. Without God, I do not know how anyone could bear this kind of pain.

I could write more but this is enough background for you who do not know this history. I love what I am doing now but this incident has really made me miss the many young couples like these that I invested my life in for so many years. They all hold a special place in my life. Farid and Winny I continue to share with through instant messages. Mega is back in Indonesia and we do not know what she will do. She had planned to go back to school for her Masters degree in education. Only time will tell.

Yusnan & Mega I will not forget you and neither will Vicki. You were great young adults and outstanding in character and spirituality beyond your years. I am so humbled and honored to have known you. I'll see you again - this I believe.

I want to encourage you as readers to use this link and go see the pictures and watch the video Farid did of Yusnan. It will be played at the Memorial Service at New Hope. I cannot be there but I sure wish I could because I love you all. We do not sorrow as those who have no hope but you had better believe that we expreience sorrow. This has been a heart breaker.

Readers: There are some outstanding young Christians these days and I've had the honor of knowing them. May we all live so we are ready to die having lived a life without regret.

View the link it will be worth your time - especially the video at the bottom.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jesus & Me

Easter was a wonderful time this year and for some reason it felt a little more personal to me than on some occasions. I think what struck me this year was the love of God expressed for me in Easter. Some would assume that this would be obvious to everyone but not so much for me.

I was raised with a works mentality and I've found it very hard to break through that. Now it wasn't that I ever thought intellectually that I could earn my way with God, I understand all this in my head. But, if it doesn't reach your heart you still practice your works to please God as if in so doing he would love you more. Even though I am a very emotional person this has not been easy when I have applied it in my own life.

You know something? No matter how long I live or how hard I try I cannot change anything in my past. So no matter how good I am in the future I cannot get rid of my past. All my mistakes, times I have hurt or disappointed others, times I have disappointed myself and so forth. It's all there and never goes away. But the blessing of Easter is that in spite of everything, in spite of all 100% of it - God demonstrated his love for me without question.

That's not easy to wrap your mind around because do you realize that no other person really knows you. They only know the part of you that you let them know. God knows everything and still was willing to die for you. He never has walked away from me or anyone.

That truth impressed itself on my heart this Easter Sunday. It really hit me when I was praying with the choir before service and then something wonderful happened later in the day.

I was at the Bochette gardens for a picnic. In the garden is a life size sculpture of Jesus with a place for you to sit down with him. I had seen it before but on this occasion I had the opportunity to talk with the artist the created the piece and hear his take on his own work. That is where the words "Jesus and Me" came from, that conversation. He spoke of often there is the picture or concept of me and Jesus divided. Without going into all the conversation, the point was that he wanted to do something that showed the ability to be close to Jesus and accepted by Him.

Sunday we have our picnic in that garden and I am looking forward to having my picture taken with Jesus. Others will want to do the same. Now to some that may sound lame but for me it will complete my Easter experience.

I look forward to the message of that picture. There will be a time when all the past will be wiped away and we will be with the one who knows everything about us but invites us to sit with him - just "Jesus and Me." So for 2010 that is what Easter means to me... it means "Jesus and Me."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Amazing Story

My wife has had a book for sometime and I've never read it. On the Monday after Easter for some reason I picked it up and read it in one setting. It is an easy read and I highly recommend it because I think it shows so well how people you really have given all to God live through life's most difficult situations. These are the real hero's of life. The book is "Mistaken Identity" which is the story of the Taylor University students involved in the van accident where mistaken identity leads one family to think they are having a funeral for their daughter and the other thinks they are at the ICU watching over their daughter when the reverse is true. This book will inspire you.