It might be unnerving to read a letter addressed to the dead. But somehow, when I was writing this a week after the event, it seemed like the only way to eulogise my friend, Simon. The shock of the news was still sinking in then: him falling while cliff-climbing — something he loved — on an ordinary Friday afternoon, him leaving behind his wife — my friend, too — and his two babies, him being only a few years older. My Bible study group-mate, my brother in Christ, my friend, one of the good people who helped make Hong Kong my second home, gone to our true home without warning. I couldn’t start on this contribution to a memorial book planned by his close friends, meant as a keepsake for his children, in the initial turmoil. I asked questions of God, and I waited, as more clarifications filtered in, as the numbness gradually lifted. A kind of peace came only with the realisation described in the first paragraph below. And now all moments of sadness have to be swiftly replaced with prayer for his family, including his mother. May I invite you to join me in this looking up for consolation and care.
You’re gone so suddenly, so soon. I confess that after the shock wore off, I got a little bit angry with God and with you. Then the sadness came. Knowing why your life was so short won’t make the grief any less painful, so I’ve stopped asking God why. Being anxious about C and the children means ignoring how God pays special attention to widows and children, so I’ve decided to continue trusting that He is good and faithful, and will take better care of them than anyone can imagine. And because I believe that nothing happens without our Father God’s permission, I believe that He knew exactly how much time you were going to have on earth.
So I would like to start thanking God for blessing us with you, a follower of Christ in every part of your life, from your wise leadership of your family to your choice of career to your service in church. I remember how before your first child was born, you asked us to pray for you to be a good husband and father. I remember how you left the hotel business and willingly went without much sleep to serve drug-addicted youths in faraway Tin Shui Wai. I remember how you cared, shared, prayed, and studied the Bible in our English-language small group. It wasn’t always easy for you to speak in English but you were never afraid to try your very best with a happy smile.
I also want to praise God for richly blessing you with a wonderful legacy through your beautiful, intelligent and kind-hearted C, your daughter, YY, and your son, XS. You honoured God by honouring and loving your wife, and taking care of your family so well. I remember how you cooked good food for them, how you patiently fed the babies, and how much fun you had together and with each one of them. And I know for myself the blessing your family has been. Your and C’s concern for me, a Singaporean in Hong Kong, never stopped at merely asking me how I was doing — you gave practical advice and help, and you gave me a home when I had to move.
My prayer is this: Father God, thank You for Simon’s life. Thank You for conquering sin, death and the devil, so that Simon’s story will never be forgotten. Father, the Bible tells us how much You care for widows and orphans. Please empower everyone in C’s life to provide love, care, space and security for her and the children all the days of their lives. May Your comfort, peace, grace and truth never stop flowing to C, YY and XS, and may they always have ears to hear and eyes to see You. Thank You that because of Your love, You know what it’s like to suffer and to die. Thank You that because You rose to life, we can all live with a future and a hope by trusting in You. I pray all this in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Simon. It was my privilege to call you my friend. One day, we will all meet again and share our stories of adventure, of joy, of heartache, and of God’s glory. Until that day, I hope to press on and finish well, just as you did by being faithful to what you were given to the very end.
BT Singapore 1 June 2012