Tribute to those who were promoted to Glory in 2021
There were different causes for this dramatic loss of life, and the Covid-19 pandemic was the main cause. COVID-19 dramatically affected some of our partners and master trainers. In one Southeast Asia country alone, 18 of our key leaders/SIU trainers died from the virus in a very short period. Also, one of our long-standing Partners in West Africa, Rene Mbongo, succumb to the virus quickly and passed into Glory leaving his wife, Faustine, and many children and grandchildren in sudden loss and much grief. Rene had over 20 years of service and relationship with SIU and his personality and love of Christ will never be replaced. His passion for the Lord’s Kingdom lives on through his family and all of us who were blessed to be a part of his life. Rene will be deeply missed here on earth; however, there is a coming reunion where we see him with our King.
We also had much spiritual warfare and tragic unexpected events with recent loss of life close to home. My beloved wife and soul mate, Melissa Kiefer (“Sweet Missy” as she was fondly known) succumbed to a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease with its devasting physical and mental illnesses. This month marks 30 years of marriage. We have four wonderful children. I praise God for her life and testimony as a follower of Christ!
As we grieve the loss of these believers and beloved family members, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. As the scripture assures us, “…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8, NKJV)
So many of you have reached out to me in kindness and love with my wife, Sweet Missy’s recent passing into Glory. I thank God for each of you; your compassion, your love and your continued prayers for my family – especially for our four children. I am relying heavily on my faith in three areas right now: the Sovereignty of God, the peace of God and the love and goodness of our God.
First, do we believe our God is Sovereign?
I want to share just a few of the promises & claims in the Living Word about our God:
“God is in control of all things and rules over all things. He has power and authority over nature, earthly kings, history, angels, and demons. Even Satan himself has to ask God’s permission before he can act.” (Psalm 103:19)
“God is above all things and before all things. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is immortal, and He is present everywhere so that everyone can know Him.” (Revelation 21:6)
“God knows all things past, present, and future. There is no limit to His knowledge, for God knows everything completely before it even happens.” (Romans 11:33)
These claims make it clear to me and assure me that there is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. I also believe His presence is everywhere, and that as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God has NO limitations.
Our Sovereign God is intimately involved in our pain. Our God was with Joseph in his brothers’ treachery and his long imprisonment in Egypt. Our God was with Jeremiah during the destruction of Jerusalem. Our God was actually IN Jesus when He was crucified on a cross. God’s hand had a purpose in each of these traumatic events. His sovereign will and perfect “Plan A” already counted on these trials to come. He did not frantically come up with Plans B or C because of an unforeseen failure in Plan A. No – He foreknew and designed His perfect will in “Plan A”.
Our Sovereign God knew every day of Sweet Missy’s life before it ever happened – including her fourteen-year journey with Parkinson’s Disease and her last day on earth before ushering her into His eternal Kingdom.
Secondly, do we believe God can provide peace – especially during the most difficult times?
The Lord spoke about His peace many times in His Living Word and said to His disciples and followers:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV)
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
These promises are firm and true. I am spending much time in His Living Word, trusting Him each day. Let me tell you, I have been receiving bucket loads of peace!
And finally, do we believe our God is full of Love and Goodness?
The Apostle Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, revealed much in the book of Romans about the love and goodness of our God in these passages:
“And we know that in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
The passage says that in ALL things, not just the good things, but even what we would call the “unexpected” or “tragic” events are within God’s sovereign nature.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
Nothing can separate us from His love. King Jesus brought His Kingdom to this earth to redeem us, to rescue and save us. He is near to us now and He is with Rene, Sweet Missy and all our loved ones who believed in Him and have fallen asleep before us. AND HE is coming again SOON, so let’s have our lights and lampstands on! To God be the Glory for these believers’ lives and testimonies. We, all who believe, shall see them again soon.
Come Lord Jesus! Maranatha!
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