On February 15, our dear friend, Belinda Allder, ended a 2 year battle with cancer and went home to be with our Savior. We first met Belinda at the 2007 3rd wave conference in South Africa. She was a missionary in Thailand, and over the last 5 years our friendship grew as we saw each other at various youth conferences and meetings in different locations all over Asia. Belinda was an amazing person to be around - she put everyone at ease and loved to laugh, learn about different cultures, and share about the awesome things God was doing. I'm so thankful for the time we had together and the incredible memories shared. I learned so many things from her life, and it is such a privilege that we got to know her while working together with youth in Asia-pacific. It's always hard to lose a friend, but I'm so thankful that our friends at WMC-AP made the following tribute to remember who Belinda was as a follower of Christ:
That same evening, we received a phone call from our church secretary and friend that her 6 year old son, Daniel, was involved in a household accident and being rushed to the hospital. Brian met Vanessa at the hospital, and shortly after found that Daniel also met Jesus that night. Vanessa is pregnant with twins, and her husband, Jeremy, was deployed at the time. It's hard to find words to describe the emotions of those next few days... extreme shock at what happened and the precious, fragile nature of life... complete awe of Vanessa's strong faith in God and the many miracles we witnessed the next week before they returned to the states to be with family...and the soul-wrenching dependence on God's peace, strength, and control in the midst of confusing and troubling times.
Daniel was an amazing boy, full of life and a genuine love for God and His creation. He was a great friend of Justin's, and Justin still enjoys talking about the fun times they had and how he will see Daniel again in heaven some day. Vanessa and Jeremy have returned to Okinawa and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their twin boys this summer. Please keep them in your prayers. Pray that our church family will continue to be their "family" during their time here in Okinawa.
Unfortunately real life doesn't stop when we lose friends and need time to grieve and heal. The last two months have had more than the usual share of tough times in relationships, work, and ministry, but our God is so great. He continues to teach us, stretch us, and show His faithfulness in new ways every day. This past season of Lent has truly been a time of clinging to Jesus and understanding his "peace that surpasses understanding" in new ways. So pray for us as we continue to wait, learn, and trust. We're in awe of the ways God works in our lives and the amazing friendships he blesses us with, even if just for a short time.
Here's a song from one of my new favorite artists that has been especially meaningful to me recently... it's based on Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.