My group served the week of June 24-29th in Charleston, SC. About 3 months ago we got the news that my father had stage 4 colon cancer. It has been a long road with his choosing to not have treatments and enjoy life here with his family while he can. Before leaving for Charleston my father fell and was admitted into the local Hospice hospital. Our trip was filled with lots of love and real conversations during devotions about being a better youth group and really welcoming other youth into this fold of love.
On Tuesday as we returned to prepare for our free afternoon I got word right before most crews returned from my sister. My father had fallen asleep mid-morning to not wake up and enter the kingdom of heaven to embrace not only Jesus Christ but his wife of over 40 years. It was a crushing blow as I was away when my mother passed away from a brain tumor.
If anyone knows me, I am a background kind of youth pastor that does not like credit or gratification and I love to PLAN! Well no matter how prepared I wanted to be no one can prepare for this. My niece, my dad's granddaughter, came on the trip as a late addition and I truly feel as I tried to figure out why God had me where I was it was because He needed her where she was. I was a witness to so much love and compassion being poured out over Sarah and I as we mourned this loss together, hundreds of miles from home.
Our group cried together, prayed together, and walked this road of mourning together. I could list off a laundry list of ways God was working way beyond my control or planning. On top of all of this I had been talking with my dad the last month about salvation and even got to pray as he openly accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. On Wednesday night he prepared me to ask each youth that same question and two of our youth chose to dedicate their lives, once and for all, to Jesus Christ. It was the most glorious moment as I once again was able to witness God's love.