Hi everyone, yes, I am still here and surviving. I have been kind of busy and couldn’t help neglecting my virtual community, sorry.
Health – Doing OK, control is still not there yet. I am optimistic that I am going to get back to pre-marathon wellness.
Tragedy – I lost a dear friend last week. This was the first time that I have lost a friend within the virtual community. Even though I have never met him or heard his voice, it seems that through email, blogging, and writing in an online community is all we needed to draw a close bond together. I remember the first time we started conversing together. He started posting on 7villages (an online United Methodist community) were I was hanging out at, trying to get a feel of the heresy going on in this church. Yes, at the time I was in deep with an extremist religious group. Heck, I thought it was my mission to observe their heresies and learn how to combat these false teachings. Well, John started posting his Mark study from the Gospel of Mark. He gave many book references, so I ordered the books and began studying these heretical writings. I was hoping to get some insights from these books to be able to combat this guy. Hey, I was God’s warrior and I was at war with the devil’s minions (John would have gotten a kick out me saying this. He was often told he was a minion of satan in this community). Something happened to me while reading these books, I changed.
I knew for a while that I was not comfortable with the way my life was going. I thought for sure that the religion I was in was the right one and I need to follow it without fail. The only problem was, I hated who I had become because of it, but I didn’t want to change because that meant internal damnation and life without God. So, one frightful day, I said no more, faced my fears, and changed.
John was the first person that I reached out to after that. He probably thought, what the heck did I get myself into. One would think that he would be the last person that I would reach out too. Wasn’t he the one who was the heretic! Come to find out, I was the one who was on the wrong side of the fence. After many email conversation with him, his comforting demeanor helped me realize that everything was going to be OK. Hey, I was scared to death that God was going to crush me, something that never happened.
Few weeks ago John sent me a message on FB asking me how things were going. It was good to hear from him. I knew his health was shaky but he seemed to think he would recover. Anyway, I replied back and at the end of my message I told him that I thank God quite a bit for his service to the Church. If it wasn’t for him putting himself out there, facing ridicule many times, it is hard telling where I would be today. Unfortunately, he never replied back to continue the conversation. I figured he was busy and did want to bother him to much.
Couple of weeks later, I was poking around FB and learned from a post written on by John’s sister that he had passed away. It was truly shocking, did not see that coming. I wish I could have had some more conversation with John before his passing. I am hoping that he did read my final message to him and I hope he knows that he fills a special place in my heart that I will not let go. His legacy, as I know it, will not fade away at his death. He was a blessing to so many people throughout his years and I want that to continue. Rest assured John, I am never going to forget you and it is my hope to carrier on with the mission we found so precious; social justice, wrestling with theology, and to keep on learning.
John, from this day forward I dedicate my blog, “Religiously Challenged”, to you my friend. May your life be a blessing forever more and I pray that God will see fit to grant me the ability to continue your legacy through me. I love you my friend, it is my hope that we meet again and have some heavenly coffee together.