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The same comfort God has given us (Kelly's Story)

Graham Carter, President of Pacific Partners writes

Last August a church team from Arizona, USA went to Tonga on a mission trip with UCB Pacific Partners. The team planned to do maintenance work at the radio station and work with disabled people and in the schools. But plans changed, when the ferry, Princess Ashika sank with the loss of over 90 lives. The team ministered to the families who waited days at the wharf for news of missing loved ones.

[ visit the team website ]

Kelly was one of the team members.

She sent me her story of what God was doing

in her own life during that time.

Here’s Kelly’s story . . .

In the beginning of 2008, a cousin I loved like a brother died painfully. Soon after that, my grandmother fell and almost died. I moved in with my grandma to care for her. Then, I made a good friend in one of my

college classes, a Christian man. Our friendship grew and I fell in love with him. He convinced me that he loved me too. However, he suddenly changed and I had to choose between him and morality. I chose to do what’s right and to please God, which I am glad of. However it broke my heart to let him go because I truly loved him.

I decided to go to Tonga a week later.

I believed a mission trip would be a good way to

rededicate myself to Christ after being so tempted by sin.

Two weeks before the trip, I came home and my grandmother was not there. I was terrified. She had had a major stroke and been taken to hospital. She didn’t know her family afterwards and hallucinated constantly. I remember walking around in a daze, watching people go about their lives and feeling like I didn’t belong with them. People around me were laughing, talking, living, working, and I was grieving two men and fearing for my Grandma’s life. I felt very alone. My family insisted I still go to Tonga, so I went with grief and fear in my heart.

We witnessed the national mourning when the Princess Ashika sank. I saw people grieving for their loved ones, and I knew how they felt because of my own losses. I saw people grieving for their families and friends and I knew how they felt. We tried to comfort them with words, but I knew from my own loss, grief, anger, and questioning that it is not easy to heal after losing someone you love.

I remembered people at home telling me, “You’ll see your cousin in Heaven,” or “He is in a better place,” trying to comfort me, but their words just made me angry because my cousin wouldn’t see the nephew he loved grow up, he would never be a pastor like he wanted, or marry the woman he loved. Grief takes time, sadness can be overwhelming, and bitterness can easily take root in hearts.

In one day in Tonga we drove past at least ten funerals and heard the singing of mourners. I saw my cousin’s funeral in my mind as we passed. Maybe I was allowed to be there when the tragedy happened so I could understand what the people of Tonga were feeling, and somehow help. Or maybe it was so that I wouldn’t feel alone in my grief anymore. Either way, God knew what He was doing and used the trip to bring me some peace.

I returned home and my grandma died. I watched her die. Grief took me. I felt as if there is only loss in this life and love always ends in pain. I found myself asking God where my justice is. My cousin was too young to die, I did nothing but love the man who broke my heart, and I couldn’t tell my Grandmother that I loved her before she died because she know longer knew who I was.

Some people are surprised that I mourn, because I am a Christian. But grief is not easy for Christians either. I believe in Jesus, grace, redemption, and heaven, but that doesn’t make it easy to no longer have the people I’ve loved in my life.

I prayed constantly for my family members to be healed, and for the man I loved to get serious about following God, but none of my prayers were answered as I hoped they would be. My heart has been so full of grief at times that it had no room for anything else.

I had tried to overcome grief alone, but I am not strong enough. The Lord used the tragedy in Tonga to teach me that I need my wide family of Christians to help me. I’ve learned that there is no shame in crying with someone, in reaching out. Romans 12:4  and 12:15 read, “...We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other,” and “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”

(Above) The team from Calvary

Chapel of Kingman, Arizona

(Above and below) Families wait at the wharf for news of their loved ones on the missing ferry

Kelly’s story shows how even while facing our own deep difficulties

God will still use us to help others. While amazingly helping us to heal at the same time!

(The Apostle Paul said it much better in 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 "When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ.")  

Visit the team website

We are never alone as Christians. Because we belong to Christ, we also belong to each other. When we love each other as we should, helping and accepting help, we find the comfort and strength of Christ comes to us, though His people – our Christian brothers and sisters.

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As heard in the islands