If you’re on our email list (What? You’re not on our email list? What are you doing here, then? Get yourself over to our Contact Page and sign up. We’re less annoying than Amazon, and I know you put up with those emails.) you will have heard about the two deaths experienced by members of our community last week. This week, we report several additions to that number. Edward Athiyo (whose son’s body we transported last Sunday) this week lost his wife (he’s now outlived five children and two wives).
Because of our Christian presence here, the pastors are often asked to attend, officiate, or otherwise participate in the burial services that necessarily take place when people in the community die, even when they are not members of our church. Naturally, these are very prickly situations to navigate, theologically speaking. The family of the deceased expects to hear words of comfort, encouragement, hope. But the reality of these lives is a great deal more murky—these people had no affiliation with our congregation and no profession of faith that we know of. We don’t want to presume on the grace of God in one way or another, so it comes urgent that words of warning be given (Dave mentioned tonight Romans 6:23—the wages of sin is death.) to those who remain, unwelcome though it may be, with all possibly delicacy.
This week, we mourn another sort of death as well—equally delicate, though one for which there will likely be no funeral. If you’ve been following the work of the Karamoja mission from its early days, you will recall a young boy, named Lokwii David, in whom Kristie Freeman took a special interest and to whom she taught the Westminster Shorter Catechism. He has grown over these ten plus years into a young man and translator, teacher for the Mission, and it was our hope that he could grow to become a pastor. It has been an open secret for some time now, but it was finally announced this week that he has decided to take a second wife and leave his work with our church. And so, once again, we are stuck between the sinful reality of this world and the Christian hope that we claim. Death is an all-too-common reality here (and alcohol-related death, as some of these recent deaths have been, is especially prevalent), as is the problem of Christians being seduced away from their faith by the attractions of this culture.
It was prayed for Lokwii that God would give him no peace until he repented of this sin. It struck me as an odd prayer, but it stuck with me as the very thing one might expect the Psalmist to pray. Peace is commonly prayed on behalf of the dead (or for the family left behind); it seemed fitting that on behalf of this living dead one, we prayed not peace, but spiritual adversity, in order that he might come—like Lazarus—from the grave.
May God be so merciful.