It has been a difficult week. Yesterday I attended a beautiful memorial service for a really tortured soul. This past week brought news of two passings that have been greatly on my mind. Through it I have been hearing God speak something quite clearly, but that doesn't make any of this easier. Let me tell you about my friend Colin Benner first.
I met Colin and Denise, they are inseparable in my mind in many ways as I admire the depth of their relationship and have been praying a lot for Denise and the greatness of her loss, I met them quite a few years back when they were trying to reconnect with their old friends Jim and Mary Rennicks. Jim and Mary had the Ottawa Vineyard before we started Freedom, and I was part of that church in the beginning and in the final years. So happenstance landed Colin and Denise into our livingroom one afternoon where we encountered two people who seemed seated in the very grace of God. You know a meeting is significant when someone begins singing encouragements over you as Colin did that day. When Colin and Denise came to work with a struggling Vineyard church in Kanata I was overjoyed.
As I got to know Colin and Denise better I was privileged with seeing first hand their gifting at restoring faith communities to health. I had been hearing of how they had done this all over the world. I certainly felt blessed by their work here, not just with the local congregation they nurtured, but with the region as well. Colin has this laid back, grace filled air that, I believe, allowed him to speak into situations prophetically and profoundly. Wise too, this week I feel like I could have used his wisdom - and in some strange way I think I have experienced it despite his passing beyond the veil.
Colin was my friend. I don't say that glibly. We actually talked about the idea of what is friendship. I know he knew the real struggles that ministry could sometimes bring. He shared his frustrations and pain with me. And he always had an ear to hear mine. I have lots of people that I respect and admire - but few of them are also real friends. My life is richer because Colin was my friend.
Denise posted a link to an important blog post from Colin called Footprints in Your Life. In this post Colin encourages us to not wait until someone has passed to tell them how important they were to you. The wisdom of this was driven home yesterday at Amanda's memorial. There was a large crowd gathered to mourn Amanda's passing. Amanda, as I mentioned, was a tortured soul. She transitioned genders later on in life and found herself exiled from the Christian communities that have always been important to her. Tragically Amanda took her own life last week. Talking with a mutual friend at the memorial he was in tears realizing just how many people came out to show their love for Amanda. His lament was that Amanda was not there to see just how much support there was for her, how many people cared for her. The echo of Colin's encouragement was not lost on me.
Last night when Sharon and I were preparing to pray for those Colin and Amanda have left behind we talked about this idea of not waiting to encourage. It is something we've actually always tried to do. We decided last night to redouble our efforts - especially as a family (which seems to be the first place we slack on such things) - to encourage people while they are with us. Read Colin's blog post, you will be glad you did. Hold those you love closer today and encourage those whose passing would leave a gap in your life. Thank you for your wisdom Colin. Amanda I'm glad your pain is now over. Rest well my friends.