When I last wrote to you, I requested that you pray for my father and for our family. Daddy was in the hospital with various ailments attacking his body. I didn't know if or when he might get out of the hospital.
On Wednesday night, last week at about 11:35 or so, Daddy went home to be with Jesus. It was a special time with the family, leading up to his homegoing. We all pretty well knew it was the end, and we were pretty much all ready to let him go. He had 86 full years on the earth, and his body was failing in multiple ways.
I thought it was a beautiful thing that he was surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and a number of other family members and friends on his last day. As far as I could tell, he seemed to recognize pretty much everyone who came to his bedside, though he couldn't always verbally acknowledge them. His eyes said that he recognized them, and his smile did too.
At about 8:00-8:30 pm on Wednesday night, I bent over him, whispered in his ear, "Daddy, I love you. You've been a good soldier, you don't have to fight any longer." I kissed him again and then put my cheek next to his lips. He lifted his head enough to kiss my cheek and then laid back. I told him again, "I love you" and left the hospital to go home for some rest. At 11:35, I got the call that he had gone home. My brother said he was snoring, and then he wasn't snoring any more. Most people would like to pass that way.
As far as I could tell, I didn't see any signs that he ever had any pain throughout the whole ordeal. He did labor to breathe at times, but showed no signs of pain. We take comfort in that, and the fact that we have confidence that he is in heaven now, with no more pain or suffering to ever be endured again.
His funeral was Saturday and the entire service focused on glorifying God, and the beauty of a life well lived. It wasn't about how wonderful T.L. Fletcher was, though we all know he was a very special man. It was focused on the fact that he sought to serve and please his Master, our heavenly Father. The good news of forgiveness in Jesus was also clearly explained.
Daddy was a World War II veteran. He was proud to have served his country in that way. He was saluted and honored by the honor guard of our squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (Erika, Evan and I are members of the squadron) and he was also honored by an Army National Guard Honor Guard Unit. They folded and presented a flag to my mother and played taps in his honor. It was a very moving tribute.
We are still processing what this all means. Mama and Daddy got married when he was 21 and she was 16! They were together for 65 years. I can only imagine the transitions she has to face in learning how to live alone for the first time in her life! Pray that we will be able to serve her well in that transition and that she will find ways to serve God with the time she has.
Many of us are finding comfort and meaning in the Bible passage that I quoted in our last update:
Awaiting the New Body
I Corinthians 5
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
I am actually writing this update from Orlando, where I have traveled to be on a committee interviewing prospective missionaries with Pioneers. Pray that I will be used in many lives this week, and that I will be an encouragement to this choice group of servants. Next week, I'll be staying in Orlando for a Church Partner Forum, during which we will be meeting with about 25 church mission leaders from around the country. They range from churches that have been partnering with Pioneers for many years, to churches who are considering partnership, but want to get to know us better. Our desire is that these partnerships would represent enhanced work among those people groups who have the LEAST opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus in places around the world. As Oswald J. Smith, Pastor of The Peoples Church in Toronto said, "Why should anyone have the chance to hear the gospel twice before everyone has had the chance to hear it once?"
Please pray for these meetings to be useful to encourage greater and more strategic engagement in missions to unreached peoples.
As always, thank you for standing with us in this endeavor...that all may hear the good news of Jesus.
Greg Fletcher (for the family)
Church Partnership Facilitator - Mid-Atlantic
Home/Office: 540.895.9590 || Cell: 540.845.5577
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org || Twitter: PioneersCPT
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