Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Untimely Death


On this Father’s Day, I mourn the tragic loss of my grandniece Jessica Miller’s husband Jonathan, father of three young daughters ages five, three and two.

Just over a week ago, without any warning except his having admitted the night before that he was extremely tired, Jonathan died in his sleep at their home in rural Nicaragua, apparently from a severe asthma attack.

Jonathan and Jessica are a part of a church planting effort in Central America, one that was begun by my oldest brother Sanford and his wife Martha in Costa Rica over 40 years ago. Their son Pablo, my nephew and Jessica's father, is the pastor of a congregation in Wasala, Nicaragua, and Jonathan was one of the ordained ministers in a nearby church outreach.

Pastors can to some extent be replaced, but for Jessica and their three young daughters, the sudden loss of Jonathan is almost more than we can bear--or comprehend.

I debated whether to include this intimate picture of Jessica and her daughters (with Pablo, her father, and Jessica's sister Cynthia) with Jonathan’s body. I use it with their permission because it captures some of the heartbreaking reality of their loss, something the family and community face in a way that is different from most in our American culture.

For example, Pablo himself, along with one of the local believers, prepared Jonathan’s body and helped place it in a homemade casket for the all night wake held Saturday night at their home. In keeping with local practice, the body was not embalmed but was buried the next day after a memorial service attended by hundreds of people who came from the surrounding area and from other parts of Central America.

Jessica and her precious daughters need our support and prayers. They will be moving to a house near her parents, Pablo and Eunice Yoder. Here is her address:

Jessica Miller
Apartado Postal 333
Matagalpa, Nicaragua
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