He was tall. He was strong. He was my brother, and he was my hero. When we lived in Lakeville, Massachusetts, and I shared a room with my little sister, Esther, Steve’s bedroom was directly across from ours. When he was on his way to bed he would frequently stop in the doorway of our bedroom and just talk. He talked about cars. Fast cars. And motorcycles, and girls. He made me feel like I was important enough to be talked to at a time of great loneliness and isolation in my life.

As adults, Steve (middle back in the photo) and I hiked hundreds of miles across the states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Idaho. But this abruptly came to an end when Steve was diagnosed with dementia 12 years ago. It has been a long, difficult road for him and his family. His soul left this earth on October 25, 2022. We had a small memorial service on Saturday in Phoenix where he was living at the time.

Steve with his son, Ben

My next-to-the-last visit with Steve, just before his 70th birthday this year, is a memory I treasure. He no longer knew who I was but there was still a light in his eyes. I talked about some of our hikes, striving to jar his memory. He raised his eyebrows and smiled even though I was pretty sure he didn’t remember anything I was talking about. When I took him out of the noise and confusion of the facility he was in and we sat in his room, he began to settle down and the agitation I sensed before was significantly diminished. “Would you like me to pray, Steve?” I asked. “Pray, pray, pray!” he responded with enthusiasm. I prayed. With my hand on his leg, I could feel the tension subside as I prayed. And then I asked, “Would you like to read some Scripture?” He reached decisively for his Bible and opened it to Psalm 88 and we read:

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah
8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.

But he is no longer in darkness. He is no longer struggling to recognize the people around him. He is “present with the Lord,” according to the Bible. We will hike again, I believe, and drink from pure rushing streams. We will talk and I won’t just listen this time. I, too, will talk. We will rejoice in the salvation provided for us through Jesus Christ. We will climb high peaks and look down on idyllic scenes free from sickness, pain, and sin. And I pray that his wife who faithfully took care of him when he no longer knew who she was, and his beloved children will be with us there too, still trusting in the blood of Jesus Christ to give us a right standing before God the Father.

Steve’s passing has inspired me to reexamine my life to make sure I am having maximum influence on the people around me for Jesus, that I am investing well in those lives God has put in my path. I believe Indian Bible College is one place I can fulfill that desire. And God has worked through you to enable me to do so. I thank God for you and for the privilege of impacting lives for eternity.

Please continue to pray for us at Indian Bible College as we enter term three this coming week. There are two different trips that some students and staff will be embarking on in the next two weeks. Pray that we will interact well with one another and those we meet and that we will learn and grow in our relationship with Christ. Pray we would be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor will not be in vain in the Lord.

May you also be encouraged in your service to Him.