My base leader at the YWAM Taipei base has recently passed. It will almost be a month since his death at the time of this post. My encounters with death has been at a minimal, but began earlier this phase when my high school classmate passed away from cancer, someone who I greatly admired and respected as a person, designer and sister-in-Christ. But with my base leader, Don, the more I realize the implications of what it meant the more destroyed I feel.
Though I did not know Don very well, he taught a week at my DTS and even a week in my SBS, on the book of Acts. The more I learned about his life after his death more I realized I was a fool for not speaking to him more. He was there at my brother’s wedding and I learned from my own dad that Don made it a point to congratulate him that day.
Don was a missionary in Taiwan for twenty years with his wife, Denise. They have two boys the same age or so as me and my brother, and a daughter a few years younger. They are the opposite of me, white people that were raised in Asia. Their chinese is probably better than mine probably their english too. At his funeral in California, his home state, there was over 300 people there, literally people from all over the world, including Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM.
His memorial in Taiwan had a projected 400 people there. He spoke in churches and preached at some weekly for over 20 years. So at his memorial, there were so many Taiwanese. After worship and some of the messages, I thought I was done crying, for sure. But then there was a moment at the very end where the pastor did something.
In the idea of being thankful to the Lord for Don’s life, he spoke of the different milestones of Don’s achievements for the kingdom through YWAM Taipei, the establishment of DTS, SBS, Titus, CLLT, delivering over 200 messages at a local Taiwanese church, and the planting of the Rock Church. And to give thanks to the Lord for these things through Don, we gave the Lord applause. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it seemed like almost 2 minutes of straight clapping of 400 people, no whistling, no cheering, but people have never clapped so hard in their lives it was very moving, and for lack of better word, epic.
After that, I thought I was done until his oldest son, stepped up. He is possibly the most manly man I’ve ever met, he has a full beard that is well kept, but could easily go feral. During illustrations that are meant to be scary, shocking or require intensity he was usually the one to do it. He got up just to thank us all for coming to show love and support for his family and himself was deeply moved and in tears.
I want to thank all the pastors for coming. I want to thank all those of the church that let us hold the memorial here. And I want to thank all of you for coming to show support and your love, but especially the Taiwanese. 20 Years ago in 1992, my family came to this country as foreigners but today, you send him away as family.
And then, BOOM. Motifs/Themes of Family + Country/Duty+ Goodbye and tears flowed so instantly they were at the bottom of my chin before I knew what was happening.
Ever since then, I think about Don a lot. I had to make a small poster in advertising his memorial, and in making it on short notice I didn’t have a lot of stock in photographs, I pulled from facebook. And going through his facebook, though he shares it with his wife, just pulling picture after picture really made me realize the impact that this man had. I have never been so challenged so hard in my life and interestingly, through a life from death. There has been a great shift in my priorities, and I feel like I will never be the same.