It was dark—early on Monday morning. I let the dog out and turned on the coffee maker. Settling in my chair to read and pray, I opened the Bible app on my iPhone to continue on my reading plan for the day. So far, everything was normal about this day.

Distraction.

My phone kept vibrating, letting me know that a steady stream of email was awaiting me. Somewhat annoyed, I looked at my WorldVenture email and in the midst of 20 new emails, this thread:

2:18 AM URGENT NEWS ABOUT PALS FAMILY
3:22 AM FW: URGENT NEWS ABOUT PALS FAMILY
4:29 AM RE: URGENT NEWS ABOUT PALS FAMILY
4:34 AM RE: URGENT NEWS ABOUT PALS FAMILY

“Oh Lord, pour out Your grace on Jamison’s and Kathryne’s parents…sustain them in this tragedy.”

Like you, I was completely unprepared for the news. An ordinary day turned into a day of great shock and mourning for the loss of Jamison, Kathryne, Ezra, Violet, and Calvin. Rereading the emails and the online news reports couldn’t change this new reality. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Jamison’s and Kathryne’s families are experiencing.

But God can. He suffered searing loss because of our sin.

Over the past several days, I have scrolled more thoroughly through Jamison’s and Kathryne’s blog. I am drawn to their everyday joy in their family. I’m inspired by their love for Jesus. I’m challenged by their sense of calling and commitment to the people of Japan. I’m left with the overwhelming conclusion: Jamison and Kathryne knew Jesus personally.

It does not take long to realize that the Pals family was anchored in an extraordinary faith in Jesus Christ. This is clearly seen in Jamison’s recent blog post, in which he doesn’t want anyone to confuse their journey as missionaries with humanitarian or altruistic work alone:

“And, if you care about the poor, needy and destitute of the world, you should care about church planting. Where else can people go to find Jesus Christ–the one who is full of mercy, who healed the sick, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, drove out demons and defeated death? No one loves the poor like Jesus loves the poor; no one has the power to help them like Jesus does. He is the One both the rich and poor alike need more than anything else. And, Jesus Christ has chosen to dwell in the midst of his people in a unique way and to carry on his work for this world through them. Church planting, then, is a work of compassion–the ultimate humanitarian work–through which people come to be loved and cared for by their Savior.”
JoyofJapan.org, July 15, 2016

Their story reminds me of the words to Stuart Townsend’s hymn: “I will not boast in anything. No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom, But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.”

I have also read numerous web comments, many from people who heard the tragic news and were gripped by the terrible loss, wanting to express their condolences and prayers for the Pals and Engel families. Still others—eyewitnesses and first responders—lament their helplessness to render aid at the crash site and simply wanted to reach out to Jamison’s and Kathryne’s families.

And yet, I am convinced that Jamison and Kathryne would want to comfort others by pointing them to Jesus Christ, beholding Him, for His dying breath brings life.

For disciples of Jesus Christ, we take great solace in the fact that God is all-loving and sovereign. Our tragedies do not take God by surprise. God is always working His redemptive purposes in our world and in our lives for the glory—the rightful honoring—of Jesus Christ as the only Savior for all men. This was Jamison’s story and delight. Is it yours?

“There is hope in Jesus Christ. I have found that the sweetest, most powerful remedy for my depression is knowing that, in Christ, the almighty God is 100% for me, not against me. I know of nothing else that can so comprehensively remove the sting of shame, fear and relational brokenness. The Lord’s undeserved and sovereign favor has delivered me from many dark nights.”

Jamison and Kathryne’s journey is complete. And yet, God continues to call men and women to go and make disciples that Jesus would be loved and worshiped by all peoples. Missions is not about missionaries, but the One who sends them. This was also the Pals’ story and boast:

“The thing that makes Christian missions unique is Jesus Christ. The work of Christian missions is making him known in places and among people where he is not yet known; worshipped where he isn’t yet worshipped; obeyed where he isn’t yet obeyed; loved where he isn’t yet loved.”

If you have questions and or desire to know Jesus Christ as Jamison and Kathryne did, please call the pastoral staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church at 612-338-7653 or email them at mail@hopeinGod.org.

If you have questions and or want to pursue making disciples of Jesus as a missionary like Jamison and Kathryne, please call the staff at WorldVenture at 720-283-2000 or go to our website worldventure.com to take the next step.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Lorie Lautenbach says:

    You captured their hearts Jeff. May God continue to do His work through this family and their life story.

  • Paul Pegors says:

    Thank you Jeff for keeping the story of this couple fresh. I was able to be present at B. B. C. For that day of Remembrance . . I still am Awed by John Piper’s Pastoral Prayer. If you would appreciate hearing it, I have on my iPad . God IS ANSWERING! In His Glad Service, Paul

  • BettyLu anderson says:

    I happened on Janet Brown’s stained glass window’s in WV story about Fukishema (sp?) church–and then Pals family tribute. Japan is my No. l prayer priority now!

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