Saturday morning I was happily riding on our church’s large vehicle, called a “people mover”-bigger than a 15 passenger van but not as big as a bus. I was an adult helper, one of several parents accompanying 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from our church to a ministry event called Superstart, geared for their age group. Another parent broke me out of my reverie when she asked if I’d heard about the teacher that had been killed last night?
Teacher? Killed? Which teacher? What school? The parent who asked me had been looking at facebook on her iphone when she had come across the tragic news. I did know who the teacher was, Carin Allen, the wonderful Latin teacher at Rolla High School, but it was the news that her husband, Phil, had also been killed, in a car accident on Friday night that shocked me. Phil was a co-worker of my husband’s at Brewer Science, and I had known Phil a bit, through the Robotics Program at Rolla High when our 18 year old son had participated in that program.
I was in shock as the news seeped into my mind and I got an awful feeling in my stomach. The Allen family had been driving to Sedalia, Missouri for the weekend, to visit Phil’s parents. Their vehicle was westbound on state highway 50. Another vehicle traveling eastbound on state highway 50 decided to pass a tractor trailer and hit the Allen’s car head on. That driver was also killed instantly. Her passenger died later at an area hospital. The Allen’s two children survived the horrific accident, but not without serious injuries.
I immediately grabbed my cell phone to call my husband. He had gotten up early that Saturday morning to go into work for a while in order to get some projects further along in their processes. I hated to be the bearer of bad news. My husband was speechless and also in shock. He asked was I sure of the information? Was it perhaps a stupid hoax on facebook? He told me he was going to call his boss to ask if he had heard this news. After a few minutes, my husband called me back and said that sadly it was true. He decided to not stay at work much longer and to go and personally inform another co-worker, a younger engineer who was also a Robotics volunteer, and who Phil was a mentor to at work. My husband didn’t want this mutual friend to find out the awful news through social media. My husband’s boss wanted to know if I knew any more information about the children, their conditions, etc. Fortunately, one of the guidance counselors at Rolla Junior High was driving our church’s vehicle and I was able to glean from him the information that my husband’s boss was wanting to know.
As I watched laughing, clapping, singing kids all around me on Saturday at the Superstart program, I kept thinking about and praying for the Allen family. I prayed for healing for the children, not just for their physical hurts but for their emotional health too. Now they would be facing life on this earth without the two most important people in their lives. No more mom and dad to hang out with, to see them reach milestones such as drivers licenses, graduations, weddings, becoming parents themselves. I prayed for wisdom for the medical staff, for the various relatives, some in Missouri and some not, who were going to need strength to help the children get through these tough days, weeks, and months ahead. I also prayed for wisdom for them in dealing with legal matters, a will, property. I also prayed for Brewer Science; Phil was an integral employee. Who was going to possibly take on the projects he was working on? The same prayer went up for Rolla High. Not many high schools even teach Latin anymore. Will they be able to find another Latin teacher quickly?
Sunday morning, my husband was informed by Brewer Science that a “Night of Remembrance” was to be held at First Assembly of God where the Allen family were members. We attended this special service and it was a nice program. Church members were there as well as Brewer Science employees, Rolla High School employees, and the Latin students. Prayers were said, a few songs were sung, and there was a slide show with pictures of the Allen family set to the popular Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine“. The Principal of Rolla High School spoke, as did the Senior Pastor of First Assembly. Two things touched me during this service: the Allen’s son had asked from his hospital room that the service be recorded so he could listen to it and have it to treasure, and the Pastor shared with us that the Allen’s son had told him that he knew his mom and dad were in heaven with Jesus, but what about the two other people in the other car? He kept praying and wondering about them and their salvation.
As horrible as this news has been to receive, as horrible as it is to realize that two adults well-loved and thought of by their families and their community are suddenly and cruelly gone from this earth in an instant, their son’s faith spoke volumes to us seated in the sanctuary. He knew his parents were with Jesus, in their new, eternal home, and he knows he’ll see them again one day.
Death is an inevitable event. No one can escape it. Some believe there is an eternal life beyond death, in heaven with God. Others don’t believe this and believe that life on this earth is all that exists and that once one is dead, that’s it. I cannot force anyone to believe as I do: Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and He is my Lord and my Savior. However, I do ask the question, “Are You Ready?” Are you ready to face the end of your life? Whether it be a sudden death or from a long, lingering illness, are you ready?
Looking at death in practical terms, do you have a will made so your loved ones will know what to do with your possessions? Have you made your wishes known for what kind of memorial service you want to be held for you? Most importantly, have you made peace with God? If you don’t believe God is real, I do challenge you to this thought: if I am wrong in my beliefs, has it hurt me in any way? Sure, some people may have a dimmer view of my intelligence for having a faith in Christ, but has that really hurt me? Yet, what if there is an eternity after death and there is a God? What then, if one has rejected God? Are you really wanting to take that leap of rejection? If I am right, and you’re not, then you will be harmed eternally.
Are you ready? Don’t wait until it’s too late to be ready. From the book of Luke, Chapter 23, verses 32-43:”Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left….. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him:”Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God”, he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Are you ready? Make sure you are! Hug your loved ones especially tight today and tell them that you love them. Ask others for forgiveness if you’ve wronged them. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Find that peace that passes all understanding, in Philippians 4:7.