Archive for the ‘Sorrow’ category

Bonnie’s Earthly Remains

August 29, 2018

Today, Martha and I visited the earthly remains of my beloved, late wife and Martha’s dear friend, Bonnie. Her lifeless body lies beneath the tufts of weedy grass and mud in the forest clearing adjacent to the meetinghouse for the Old Union Church of Christ. Memory of her is closer—in my heart and on my mind—every day. Her soul is in the custody of a righteous but merciful and loving God.

This morning, Martha and I set out with bucket, rags, soap and related items to clean Bonnie’s (someday mine also) headstone. It wasn’t a big job, and we retained our composure better than sometimes there or even at other places when grief yet crowds its way into ongoing life.

Some of my children are coming to visit tomorrow, and we will worship with the Old Union congregation on the coming Lord’s Day. We will visit Bonnie’s earthly remains once more, as family members. We will embrace what she has meant and yet means to us, which we preserve in good memories.

Before Martha and I departed from the Old Union Church Cemetery, Martha placed seasonal flowers in both of the urns affixed to the tombstone. I’m so fortunate to have Martha as my wife and as my friend. Without her I would be adrift in so many ways.


May 23, 2016
Bonnie with fishing spear in Myanmar (Burma) in 2011

Bonnie with fishing spear in Myanmar (Burma) in 2011

With my hand atop her headstone, I talked to Bonnie today (Sunday, May 22). It was one year ago yesterday that her family, fellow Christians and friends laid her feeble body to rest in the Old Union Church of Christ Cemetery, out in the woods and amidst the kudzu in rural Carroll County, Mississippi. There hasn’t been an occasion when talking to my forever and sorely missed sweetheart that tears have not overpowered my eyes; today was no exception, but my sorrowful expression was measured and subdued. Later that day, though, sorrowfulness was deeper and the tears plentiful. One would think that over the past twelve months that my tear ducts had expended their all so that no more rivers of grief might flow, but alas it is not so.

However, I am wonderfully blessed by good, caring Christian brethren who do everything possible to uplift and encourage me. Today, brothers and sisters of the Old Union Church of Christ and the West President Church of Christ (in Greenwood, MS) rescued my fainting spirit as best they could.

Sunday morning during time set aside for the Bible class, I acquainted the Old Union congregation with my recent mission trip to Guyana, South America. At the worship hour, I preached about “The Deity of Jesus Christ,” appealing to a PowerPoint presentation to better and more swiftly convey the biblical information to all present.

With my frequent stateside travels, often I miss the quarterly fellowship meal with the brethren at Old Union. In view of that, these Christian brethren moved the date for the feast ahead one week to coincide with my presence and speaking today. For what more could one ask than camaraderie among Christians and good food?

A milestone sad anniversary behind me, I continue to look ahead. I have my sights set on nine states through which I will soon be traveling while going, Lord willing, to speaking appointments. Happily, my daughter Rebecca will be accompanying me. I may be coming to a congregation near you. If not, be my advocate and arrange for me an appointment regarding my foreign mission work, a Gospel meeting, a summer series or some other opportunity to apply myself in service to our Lord. May God bless us all and use us in His service as long as we draw breath.

The Day that Would Not End!

October 24, 2011

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Early Monday morning, October 24, Steve Hogan received information that his mother-in-law was at death’s door. The day’s schedule was delayed for a while so Steve could make contact with his wife and other family members and to begin the procedure of changing his flight dates to accommodate a sooner return to the States. The nearly 12-hour difference in time zones from India to Alabama stalled changes that could be made through his travel agent in Alabama.

So, with a belated start to morning classes, now beginning at 11:30 a.m., Steve assumed his station at the church building to teach about 50 men, mostly denominational preachers. Bonnie taught about 50 ladies under a canopy in the courtyard of the Anil and Florence Kumar home, and I taught 25 adult Bible School students on the roof of the home (where the school is located in two tiny rooms, which spills out on to the roof). Because Bonnie’s location was the “dining hall” as well, she had to conclude first – at 1 p.m.; I concluded at 2:30 p.m., and Steve finished his class at about 3 p.m. A combined class of men from both venues resumed from 4 p.m. through 5:30 p.m. I taught Bible Geography first to the Bible School students and then continued with the subject to the larger group.

At 6:30 p.m., Anil, Steve, Bonnie and I rode in a hired car 2 ½ hours to the village of Maddulur – the last 40 kilometers across dirt paths and through potholes the size of small craters. Arriving at 9 p.m. – an hour late – a crowd of denominational people had been sitting atop empty feed sacks on the ground for more than an hour awaiting our arrival. I preached The One True Church of the Bible to an attentive audience, many with Bible pages turning and notepads being annotated with the biblical information presented. Next, Steve preached about Naaman. We concluded the open air services at 11 p.m. Numerous persons approached we three men and requested prayers for various reasons, which we obliged them. About to depart the meeting area, four precious souls requested to be baptized. However, there is no standing water in the area or container large enough to immerse. Finally, it was decided to take the candidates for baptism and ourselves to a creek about three kilometers away and hope we could find enough water for Christian baptism.

One woman, though, declined to be baptized, noting an open sore on her leg; she said she would be baptized later. The rest of us made our way to a concrete slab over a creek, and with headlights of the car and prodding by brethren in the water, a suitable spot was located. One new brother in Christ (who happened to be a dwarf) and two new sisters in Christ arose from the muddy water joyous to be Christians.

Next, it was back to the village for “supper” in the home (outside of) a Christian family. It was now 1 a.m. on Tuesday, October 25! Thereafter, we made our long, difficult journey back to Chilakaluripet – arriving back in our hotel room around 3:30 a.m.! Now, Steve Hogan checked emails and made phone calls to determine the status of his mother-in-law and discover the travel arrangements for his premature return to the States. At long last, we were able to turn our attention to the much needed rest and sleep from which we were deprived for too long – at 4:15 a.m.! But alas, sleep did not come easily as demolition workers were using a sledge hammer and smaller hammers in an adjoining room to dislodge and remove cement blocks; I could hardly believe that a hotel would schedule demolition work alongside of paying guests trying to sleep!

At 8 a.m., Bonnie and I awoke and showered; next, Bonnie washed clothes in the bathtub. Steve stopped by at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the balance of our trip on behalf of the Florence Blvd. Church of Christ, before leaving by taxi (with Anil) for his 11:30 a.m. departure from Vijayawada, India. He was to have overnight layovers in Hyderabad, India and London, England. (Later, we discovered that Steve did not arrive home before the passing of his mother-in-law.)

The previously planned Gospel meetings for the daytime in another village were cancelled due to the circumstances, mainly of not getting back to our hotel rooms until the next day from our previous venture, but also respecting the arrangement of Steve’s departure and Anil taking him to the airport – a day’s journey for roundtrip travel. After tea and cookies (Indians call them “biscuits”) in our room courtesy of Florence and Anil Kumar and breakfast in their home, we returned to the hotel and Steve accompanied by Anil went to the airport.

Another Gospel meeting was scheduled for the evening in a distant village, but due to heavy rains, that meeting was cancelled as well. Instead, I showed my Bible Archaeology PowerPoint to the Bible School students atop the residence/Bible school – amid a severe thunder and lightning storm. Saddened that still another opportunity had eluded us, nevertheless we were pleased that we could easily get back to our hotel at a reasonable hour for a night’s rest.

Visa Applications & Visitors

August 20, 2011
Buddhist Monastery & Pagoda

Buddhist Monastery & Pagoda

Friday was our first day back in the office since we left for appointments in Alabama, followed by going to Pennsylvania for the funeral of Mary Reed, Bonnie’s mother, and then going to Polishing the Pulpit in Sevierville, Tennessee. It was a full day. Among the activities was shipping some packages and receiving guests twice. Brother and sister Barett from the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, TN surprised us with a casserole and treated us to lunch at the local Mexican restaurant in Winona. They were a great encouragement to Bonnie and me, especially regarding the passing of Bonnie’s mother. Our second set of visitors was from a bit further away – New Zealand. Brother and sister Rod Kyle stopped by for a few minutes en route to another destination in Alabama.

One significant aspect of our day was to prepare our visa applications for Myanmar and get them sent overnight to a courier in the Washington, D.C. area to walk them through the Embassy of the Union of Myanmar. We have a three-month window of opportunity to get the visa, travel to and depart from Myanmar; we are permitted by the visa to stay in Myanmar for a maximum of 28 days. Now we wait for our visas and passports to be returned to us. Our first investment for the trip to Myanmar began with the roundtrip overnight postal expenses, application fees and courier charges. We still have to finish planning the details for the balance of the trip to India and Sri Lanka.

Saturday, Bonnie and I caught up on four weeks of grass growth at the house. That took half a day and was daunting with the high heat and humidity. I’m going to have to spread the lawn work over at least two days in the future since it seems to be a more challenging task for me than in years past.

Passing of Bonnie’s Mother

August 13, 2011

Mary Reed GraveNot long after midnight on August 8, 2011, Bonnie’s mother passed away. Two weeks earlier while Bonnie and I were in Linden, Guyana, South America, Bonnie’s brother Jim tracked us down to inform us that Mary Reed had suddenly taken a turn for the worse and was hospitalized in Meadville, PA; my wife’s 83-year-old mother had been going downhill steadily we could see each time we visited her in the nursing home, but she seemed in fairly stable health in June of this year. However, a team of medical issues besieged her all at once: pneumonia, a mersa staff infection, her kidneys shut down and each time she swallowed food went into her lungs.

We were on our way to see her in the hospital, and I had just preached for two Alabama congregations Sunday, August 7. Bonnie and I lodged in a Bowling Green, KY motel en route to Mary’s bedside, but she died before we arrived the next day. Mary Reed’s funeral was Friday, August 12, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. in Greenville, PA. She was buried in the Rocky Glen Cemetery on a ridge overlooking the Amish community of Atlantic, PA and near Adamsville, PA. Her obituary is as follows:

Mary E. Reed of Cambridge Springs (formerly of Greenville) passed away Monday, August 8, 2011 at 12:30 a.m. in Meadville Medical Center. She was 83 years old. Mrs. Reed was born July 7, 1928 in Adamsville to Hervey Henry and Gladys Hunt Henry. She graduated from Penn High School in 1946, and on September 19, 1947 she married her husband Roy Reed, who preceded her in death in 1982. Mrs. Reed worked most recently at the former Blazon Corp. in Jamestown. Mrs. Reed was a member of the First Church of God in Greenville and past-president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Women’s Auxiliary in Greenville. She also enjoyed bowling, reading, bingo and crafts. Mrs. Reed is survived by two sons, James (Jim) Reed and his wife Sharlene (Kay) of Cochranton, and Larry Reed and his wife Donna of Atlantic; two daughters, Bonnie Rushmore and her husband Louis of Winona, Mississippi, and Dianna Reed and her fiancé Edward Korab, Jr. of Sharon; a brother J. Melvin Henry of Doylestown; a sister Doris Pearce and her husband C. Robert of Greenville; nine grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband; a daughter Colleen Reed; a granddaughter Lisa Reed; and two sisters Madlyne and Dora Henry.

The funeral message was entitled “Appointments” and was as follows:


  1. The older I get, the more a particular verse of Scripture looms in my memory: Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
  2. From birth onward, every person marches relentlessly toward his or her departure from the land of the living.
  3. It’s just a matter of time for each of us, and we all will cross the same threshold from life to death.
  4.  Besides personal observation, and particularly today as we are painfully aware of the comparative brevity of life, Hebrews 9:27 summarizes the path on which each of us finds himself or herself.


I.          There is an appointment that none of us can miss though we may want to miss that appointment or at least to delay it as long as possible (Hebrews 9:27).

A.    There are many appointments in life for which we may be late or dismiss altogether.

    1. Dentist, doctor, auto repair and similar appointments populate our personal calendars.
    2. Not long ago, I cancelled a doctor’s appointment, and I have been late for other appointments.
    3. We can even reschedule some appointments in this life.

B.     However, not one of us can reschedule the appointment called death, followed by Judgment.

    1. “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1-2 NKJV).
    2.  “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
    3. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away” (1 Peter 1:24).

C.     Whether one lives a long time or passes away prematurely, all of us are aware of the relative brevity of life.

    1. “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
    2. Mary Reed recently turned 83-years-old.
    3. Regardless of how long we live, our lives are short compared to the eternity to come.

II.       Therefore, the wisest course of action that any of us can take is to make adequate preparation.

A.    The Old Testament prophet Amos warned people of his day, “…prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).

    1. That warning is as appropriate for mankind today as it was anciently for the nation of Israel.
    2. Often as I drive around the states, I see Amos’ warning on signs in people’s yards.

B.     Several New Testament passages, likewise, warn about making appropriate preparation for eternity.

    1. We need to be ready for the sudden, unannounced return of our Lord (Matthew 25:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).
    2. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:36-44).
    3. We need to be ready for the eventual death that each of us must experience, for Ecclesiastes 9:5 reads, “For the living know that they shall die.”

C.     Mary Reed made preparation for her passing from life to death by implementing the words of Jesus in her life regarding forgiveness of sin.

    1. Jesus said that a person must believe that He is the Christ or Savior (John 8:24).
    2. Jesus said that a person must repent or change from sin (Luke 13:3).
    3. Jesus said that a person must be willing to acknowledge before others that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah (Matthew 10:32-33).
    4. Jesus said that a person must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16).
    5. Jesus said that the child of God or Christian who remains faithful until death will be rewarded in heaven with a crown of life (Revelation 2:10).


  1. While humans often surmise who will be in heaven and who will not be in heaven, that is not something that God has delegated to humanity.
  2. The eternal destination of any soul is the sole responsibility of the Godhead (James 4:11-12).
  3. However, we can comfort ourselves that our God is not only righteous (Romans 2:5; 3:22), but He is merciful (Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:5; James 5:11; 1 Peter 1:3).
  4. Furthermore, Jesus Christ personally will come to retrieve those that are His in the great, last day (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).


  1. If we have not done so already, what you and I need to do before it is too late is to prepare personally for the sudden return of the Lord or our own eventual deaths.
  2. Preparation for our departure from this life may include prepaid funeral arrangements, but it includes much more, too.


Death is always a hard dose of reality, but the death of a mother is especially difficult to bear. I know from personal experience. At my mother’s funeral, I was surprised at my seemingly uncontrollable emotions, and for a year afterward, I could spontaneously and without warning break into tears. Yet, together, we can make it through the day, the days, the weeks, the months and the years that may lie ahead of us.

Let us pray together: