The past 6 months have really changed me in a variety of ways. The most obvious to you being the fact that I moved 3 hours away from friends and family to take an internship at Granger Community Church. But this isn’t the key point of this post (since I blog about that a lot) but instead is a post of reflection.
Over these past 6 months I have experienced nearly a dozen deaths within families that are very close to mine. Earlier today I received an email that I had been waiting for…but one that I wasn’t ready for. On April 14, a close family friend, Tony Crump, went to meet his Maker after a fairly short battle with cancer.
Just a month ago I was sitting in front of Tony at his dinner table as he smiled and laughed and enjoyed the time he had to spend with me. I remember it like it was yesterday – his smile was brighter than ever and he just had a gleam about him – one that says “I know who Jesus is and I know I’m thankful for everything He’s done in my life”. See, Tony hadn’t always believed in Christ nor had he always lived for Christ. But I am 100% confident that Tony was all in for Christ in his final days on earth.
I got an amazing opportunity to watch Tony grow in his faith in a pretty rapid way. About a year ago he really stepped up on our worship teams at New Life and that’s where I really got to know his fun and upbeat personality. Tony could seem shy but once you began a conversation with him you could always see a light go off. He loved Jesus with a passion and he loved his family with the same.
I just returned to Northern Indiana after a trip back for Tony’s Celebration of Life service. I have to admit that I was strong until they played a song that Tony’s son, Daniel, wrote a few years ago. But it wasn’t just that – it was the fact that they had a video of Tony playing the guitar and singing this song and it absolutely blew my mind. As I sat there with those who Tony loved and who loved Tony – I sat thankful for God putting Tony into my life for the encouragement and to hear his story.
Tony isn’t someone I will ever forget. Tony was set apart for Christ’s purpose and from what I can tell – he did one amazing job fulfilling what Christ called him to do – love and serve others without doubt.
Tony went on a trip with the men of New Life last year to Chicago to serve the homeless. This was just before he had found out about the cancer inside of him and as I’ve learned the story I’ve found out that Tony was already in a lot of pain during the trip yet held it to himself to ensure that he could continue serving. In fact, Tony was having a lot of pain and night sweats at night even throughout the trip but continued to serve with a heart set on Christ.
While I (and tons of other) miss Tony, I am 100% confident in where he resides today. He resides with an eternal life that was given to him by Christ’s death on the cross “but in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)” And then the best fact to know is that because Tony came to know Christ personally and then live for Him, he get’s eternal life. For where Matthew 25:46 states “…but the righteous into eternal life.”
I pray for the Crump family and those who surrounded Tony with his life here on earth that they will be comforted and remain strong for the knowledge they have of Tony’s eternal life and that through Christ they may one day see him again.