I stood in a room filled with books at the Seminario Teologico Bautista in Lima, Peru. The building was simple and dedicated to training young men for the ministry. Before me was a memorial plaque dedicating a section of the books to My Missionary Cousin. A few days earlier I had listened to a group of missionaries telling their stories and several of them mentioned My Missionary Cousin. They had known him and had planned to minister shoulder to shoulder with him and his family.
In 1977, ten years before I stood in that small library and sat in that living room in Lima listening to missionary stories, My Missionary Cousin and his family left for language school in Mexico. They were to learn Spanish to prepare to serve in Peru. They had only been there a short time before it became apparent that something was wrong. He was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Over the course of the next 5 years his condition deteriorated and he passed away in May of 1982 during my senior year of high school.
As I listened to the missionaries’ stories, I thought about My Missionary Cousin. He loved God. He loved Peru, the Peruvians, but he never made it back. He loved his wife and 3 young sons. But he had to leave all of that behind in a long torturous death. The tears rolled down my cheeks and I could not hold them back. He was part of the inspiration that led me to Peru as a Summer Missionary Apprentice that year. I was there, but he was not.
After his death I began to ask “Why?” When My Uncle died, I was too young to ask. Perhaps I was still too young to ask at 12 when My Pastor’s Son died. However, at this point in my life I was beginning to question not only My Missionary Cousin’s death, but also why My Uncle and My Pastor’s Son had to die. All of them loved God, were serving Him, and yet they died. Their loved ones experienced this horrible loss and grief. It seemed so very unfair. I wondered why and somewhere deep in my heart began a stirring doubt about what kind of God would do this.
"Why" is a normal question when facing grief.
How are you or how have you worked through that question?