Two tragedies mark our last five years, one at the beginning, and one at the end. The first was the murder of our friend and co-worker Francisco Bezerra. The second was the sudden death of friend and church-member Athyla Gabrielle in a motorcycle accident. That tragedy took place one year ago today.

There is no seminary class that can prepare one for performing a wedding, and then eight months later performing the funeral of the bride. More importantly, there is no seminary class that can teach you what to say to the family as you are standing by the graveside, watching as the dirt piles up around the casket of their 27-year-old daughter/sister/wife.

As Athyla lingered in the hospital following the accident I, in desperation, wrote an experienced colleague asking him what I could say should the worst happen. His answer: “You need say very little just be there… hug and hold hands and cry…”

And it turns out, that is all I was able to do.

A year has passed. The family hurts..but is healing. The church hurts…but is healing. Itacyara and I hurt…but are healing. And all of us long a little more for that day when Christ will wipe away all our tears.