This past Sunday my former boss, Jean Steinberg, passed away. She had been fighting cancer for a number of years. About one year ago I learned that she was a Christian and that she knew her cancer was terminal. My brother in-law, Greg, passed away at the end of last year from cancer, so Jean and I would sometimes talk about this experience. She was confident of where she was going, because of her faith in Jesus. She was a very strong woman and kept working no matter how bad she would feel.
Yesterday evening I attended her memorial service in Fort Myers. Some of her brothers and sisters were there, and I was overjoyed that they were all very dedicated Christians. So I know her daughter has a good network of family to help her through this loss. And a good number of Atos Origin employees came to the memorial service as well. The entire Memorial service was a testimony of the power of Christ in Jean’s life. I would suspect that the majority of the people attending the memorial service were not followers of Jesus. And this is when I realized why Christians die.
On occasion, I have wondered what my memorial or funeral service will be like. I know this may sound odd, but I do daydream about this sort of thing. I always imagine Christian friends and family being there, and knowing that they cared about me. But last night I realized, Jean had a close network of people who were not followers of Jesus. Most of the people that came to her memorial service heard a message that they desperately need to respond to. Her life became a testimony to them. And I believe that this is why Christians die. So that Christians can be a testimony to those who are not followers of Christ.
I want my memorial service to be full of people who need to know Christ. I want the recounting of my life to be a testimony to those who do not know Jesus. I want to be building connections now with people who are not already followers of Jesus. That is what life is truly about, sharing God with everyone around us. Hopefully, these connections will not be so weak that it takes my death for them to hear the gospel, but I recognize that for many people, death is the only thing that shakes people hard enough that they will take Gods message seriously.
Until last night I had sometimes wondered why Christians die. I mean couldn’t God spare his children from death? And yesterday evening I realized that it is truly simple. We die so that others can come and hear our testimony at a time when they may actually listen and understand the message.
I know Christians can sometimes be critical of other Christians who spend time with non-believers. But I am coming to realize, that if we only surround ourselves with Christians that we end up living in a bubble where the Kingdom of God is hindered. And I think it is for this reason that I have felt a strong pull to stay away from full time ministry. Full time ministry so often pulls you into the largest of Christian bubbles. Jean’s life has been a great example to me, and I look forward to the day that I can share with her again in paradise the blessing that her testimony was to those left behind.
Here is the text from Jean’s Obituary as published in the news-press on November 7th, 2007
|W. Jean Steinberg|
ObituaryJean Steinberg, age 53, of Fort Myers, Florida, died Sunday, November, 4th, 2007 following a courageous battle with cancer.She was born to Neva Gibson and the late Hubert Gibson on September 28th, 1954 in Madison, West Virginia. Jean graduated from Sharples High School and received a B.A. degree from Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia.Jean will be missed by her loving daughter, Alexandra of Fort Myers, Florida, her mother and six brothers and sisters all of West Virginia, as well as her many friends in Florida.
The family invites her friends to come and celebrate her life at a Memorial Service to be held at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 6, in the Hope Theater at McGregor Baptist Church, 3750 Colonial Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33966.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her memory to the Partner’s for Breast Cancer Care, 9470 Healthpark Circle, Fort Myers, Florida 33908, 239-454-8583.