“O Lord, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
Please take a moment right now to lift up a prayer to our Father for some dear friends of mine, Hank & Janet Lewis. I just learned last night that their 18-year-old daughter, Jade, was killed in a car wreck Thursday evening.
Hank & Janet and their sweet family live in Smithwick, just a few miles east of Marble Falls, where Hank owns a construction company. The little church in Smithwick doesn’t have much of a youth group, so Jade and a couple of her buddies came to our congregation in Marble Falls most every Sunday night and Wednesday. As the default youth minister there for a little over six-months in ’05, I got to know Jade by teaching her in Bible classes and worshiping with her at devotionals. We took her to WinterFest. She was in our home. A beautiful and talented young lady with big dreams.
I didn’t meet Hank and Janet until January ’07 when we all spent two weeks together in Israel. Through friends they had at Austin Grad and the Brentwood Church in Austin, they had arranged to take Jade with them on our trip. Jade was the youngest in our group of 25. Janet was the sweetest. Hank was the funniest.
I fell in love with this couple, this family. Huge hearts. Giant faith. Generous spirit. Hank and I wound up working in the same corner of the 10th century B.C. fortress in Tamar during the archaeological portion of our tour. And we began calling him Hammerin’ Hank because of the relentless way he attacked the nine layers of 4,000-year-old dirt with his pick. There was no quit in Hank. He worked harder than all of us.
And he played just as hard. If I live to be a hundred I’ll never forget Hank picking up boulders the size of small cars and tossing them over the 600-foot cliffs at Mizpe Ramon and hollering with delight as we watched them tumble almost out of sight. You could hear him laughing and screaming a mile away. He was acting like a ten-year-old boy. And we fed off that.
And Jade was the adventurous one. We lost her on a couple of ocassions, once for a little over an hour, when she hiked ahead of our group and took a wrong trail.
In May of ’07, just two days before we moved from Marble Falls to Legacy, Hank and I shared a two-hour breakfast at the Bluebonnet Cafe. And we talked about preaching and construction and faith and hope and raising daughters. We talked about God’s Church and the eternal scope of his Kingdom. And we prayed for each other.
And I just found out last night that Jade is gone.
My heart is broken today. But nothing like theirs.
I just got off the phone with Hank. He’s hurting. But his faith is strong. He encouraged me more than I encouraged him. He’s prayed for years that our God would keep his daughter safe. And he and Janet realize that Jade is now in the safest place she could possibly be. There’s nowhere safer than in our Father’s arms.
Please pray for Hank and Janet today. Pray for their other children, Caitlin and Keenan, and the two kids they just adopted a few months ago from Ethiopia. (I told you they have big hearts.) Ask our God to comfort them with his peace and love. They are wonderful Christian brothers and sisters who are, right now, going through a deep, deep valley. The visitation is this evening. The funeral is tomorrow. Please pray for them.