The sun had almost set over the huge agricultural expanse of Ukraine. We were on the overnight train cutting through the heartland heading back to Ivano Frankievsk, back to revival meetings. Noline was with me on this trip. There hung over us a pall of sadness, as we contemplated not being there at the memorial service of a friend and father to so many. We were sad not to have the chance to link arm in arm with thousands of others who felt the same way. Now, not even the romantic ‘clickity-clack’ of the old lumbering train could soothe the heaviness we felt. It was sorrow upon sorrow. We were finding it so difficult to try and wrap our head around the fact that Bro. Dave was gone.
Mercy however, can come in a small package. In our case it was the Blackberry. Thank the Lord for modernity and the love hate relationship that comes with it. We call it the technological revolution. We love it when it works and hate it when it doesn’t. Today, we loved it. From thousands of miles away that little black innovation called a cellular telephone beeped three times letting me know it had just received a text message. Having gone from 500 messages a month, to virtually none, my immediate reaction was to reach into my jacket pocket and retrieve my phone.
Starved from communication with friends and family abroad, we both with bated breath, eagerly scanned the screen to see who had just texted us. It was a loyal friend in NYC stating she was about to call. It is amazing, almost miraculous, how we can connect with one another from thousands of miles away. The melancholy mood, which had previously pervaded our compartment, had lifted and an air of expectancy now made a shining light in the settling dusk. It seemed an eternity for the familiar vibration and ring tone to activate, signalling a call was coming through. You may ask why all the details? Just get to the point. I can’t! When you are feeling cut off and out of touch with what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic, details count. They become your life.
Our friend had been moved upon and touched by the Holy Spirit, giving evidence the body of Christ was alive and well. She was purchasing tickets for us to travel to NYC so we could attend the planned memorial service. So much for: ‘God is dead. God remains dead,’ spoken by Atheist, Friedrich Nietzsche. Who also said, ‘I find it necessary to wash my hands after I have come into contact with religious people.’ Wash my hands of God’s people? Never! I wanted to take my hands and hug her in deep gratitude.
Flying into La Guardia, our emotions were in an upheaval. We are complex creatures at best. We simultaneously express sorrow of heart and nervous excitement, one betraying the other as circumstances in life change. Once in the city, we were greeted (not personally) with human placards declaring judgment and the end of the world on the 21st. We sighed with relief. New York thankfully had not changed. We were home.
On Saturday, we walked down the familiar streets to Times Square Church for the memorial service. We were overwhelmingly swamped by many of our friends from the past 12 years. This was our time to say our goodbye to David Wilkerson. Because of this one man we had the privilege of befriending hundreds of people. It all seemed a continual contradiction of sentiment. Yet, Jesus gives us His example of the same feelings. After the death of John the Baptist, He immediately called His disciples away into the wilderness to spend some time alone. Obviously, this was a grieving moment for the Lord who considered John one of the greatest prophets. Yet no sooner had He made His way into a solitary place He was inundated by the multitudes. Jesus did not pretend there was no sorrow; He just allowed both grief and compassion to flow concurrently from Him. In a small measure we too were doing the same.
The service was awesome, anointed, honest, compassionate and challenging; a meeting which was indelibly imprinted on our hearts. It will be remembered with deep appreciation. Brother Dave was duly honored by all; musicians, speakers and congregation alike. While standing in the closing worship I thanked the Lord for the 12 years He gave me to be a part of this church. I also thanked David Wilkerson for loving and accepting us and being an example of a true man of God. I said my farewells. I knew I could now leave for the work God has entrusted me with. We head back to Ukraine with joy to continue to fulfill the mandate given by the Lord.