Monday, April 25, 2011

Faithful Until Death

Picture (from left to right): Sônia, Beta, and Simone 

     Simone, a loving mother of her six year old daughter.  Simone, a loving wife to her husband.  Simone, a faithful Christian in a small farm community.  Simone's two sisters, Sônia and Beta, are the only Christians in the town of Areial about a 15 minute motorcycle ride from where Simone lived.  The three sisters would meet every Sunday by themselves to sing, pray, read God's Word, make an offering, and take the Lord's Supper.
     Simone had a toothache; she and her daughter were on their way to Areial to see a dentist.  There was a cow in the road so she stopped and waited, honked.  A young bull ran across the road and rammed her, they think it was head o head with Simone.  Most people do not wear helmets on country dirt roads.  Simone had a serious head injury and her six year old daughter, a broken arm.  Not long after, someone passed by.  They got help and rushed both to the nearest hospital about an hour away.  Surgeries.  Her daughter released.  Simone in a coma.  Three weeks passed - Simone passed away.
     Funerals in Brazil are fast.  There is no embalming.  The burial usually happens within 24 hours after death.  After hearing that Simone died, I went the next morning to Areial to read God's Word, sing with and pray for the family.  I think the entire small farm community came to her house to be with the family and pay their respects.  The body was loaded up and a long line of cars, motorcycles and some bicycles followed.  Upon arriving in Areial the people held the tradition, stopping in front of the main cathedral and saying the Lord's Prayer.  From there, what seemed like 1/4 of the town of Areial, which would be about 1,500 people, walked from one end of the town to the other following the body.  Many crying, some singing and all feeling the pain of losing someone they cared about.  The burial was quick.  Not many words were exchanged at the cemetery, mostly tears, hugs and words trying their best to comfort those closest to her.
     Sônia was sad but comforted with the thought of knowing that Simone was now with God.  The last song we sang at Simone's funeral was "Because He Lives":
And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory - and I'll know He lives.
Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.
     How wonderful it is to be able to sing these words and see the result in the life and death of a faithful Christian.  Our struggles in this life are worth the fight to remain faithful and know that we are going to see God and be with Him forever.
     Sônia called me last night and said that her sister Beta is struggling with God's decision not to let Simone stay a little while longer on this Earth.  In hard times, we all struggle with doubts. They prayed with faith; we all prayed with faith in a God, who is able to heal and restore.  Why did He not do so?  Was our faith not enough?  Does God really care about us?  Is He near us?  Does He know our pain?  These are all questions that are being asked by Simone's two sisters.  The questions are not bad ones.  And we shouldn't let these questions hang in the air.  Go to God - He has the answers.  That was my answer to Sônia.  These two women need your prayers.  The family needs your prayers.  We will be visiting them and helping them trust in God who saw His own Son die.  He knows our pain. Do you think we really know His?

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