A couple of weeks ago, the wife of one of the deacons of Temple Baptist Church passed away after struggling with health issues for several years. When I was asked to consider doing the funeral, I took some time to think and pray about it, and then declined. My reason for this was that since I have only been in Liberia for a few weeks, I have not had the chance to observe a funeral as it is done in Liberia – an entirely different culture and country. All parties agreed that it would probably be best if I just allowed someone else to take care of it, to enable me to experience it from an observation stand point. We had our church meetings and family meetings to discuss the arrangements, which I was present for.
Yesterday was the funeral service. We gathered together and my part in the service was to give an opening prayer. A few minutes into the service, one of the men came to me an asked if I had seen the pastor that was supposed to do the funeral, or if I had his phone number. I replied “no” to each of those questions. He then mentioned that I should get something ready just in case the pastor didn’t make it. (We had torrential rains yesterday) So I thumbed open my Bible to I Thessalonians 4:13-18 to gather some thoughts that would hopefully bring encouragement and comfort to a grieving family. By the time the preaching was to happen, the pastor still hadn’t shown up so I was called on to give a brief message. (I think Bible colleges should offer courses on “in service” sermon preparation. :))
Praise the Lord for His grace, as I was told later on that it was an encouraging message and was not in any way offensive to the culture or the family! Maybe I’ll sit and observe the next one…