Stand By Me

I’m guessing a lot of you caught the Royal Wedding last week.  We had company so I just turned the TV on mute to see the dress.  Then we all sorta got sucked in and then we thought, “might as well listen to the sermon for just a minute”……well, after that we were mesmerized, both by the ‘deviation from British stodgy protocol’ evident in the most unusual sermon, to the point that before we knew it we were watching a black choir sing “Stand By Me”!

Today my vignette about “God’s Faithfulness in Japan” is about that song, oddly enough.  I certainly never expected it to show up in a royal wedding!

Most of you who are reading this know that our oldest son Trevor died of leukemia when he was 16 yrs old. You may also know that he had 3 very best Japanese friends, who had virtually grown up with him, spending most weekends at our house from about 6 or 7 years old.

Trevor, Jun, Katsuya and Makoto were inseparable mates.  Although they went to different schools during the week they all came to the same church. They were in the children’s choir, went to children’s camp; all the things kids do when they’re at church together for years on end.

Because Japan is Japan and in the 80’s at least, it was perfectly safe for these kids to walk (or should I say ‘wander) the mile or so to church every Sunday morning, and then back to our house, dawdling along at their leisure.

When the boys were about 12 or 13 they discovered skateboards.  One Sunday on the way home, Trevor was showing off in the parking lot and lost his skateboard, which unfortunately rolled at a pretty good clip right into a plate glass shop window, shattering it.  When we returned from our church later in the afternoon, there sat all 4 boys in a row with very solemn faces.

They told us what had happened and Tony and Trevor immediately went back to the shop to make it right. On the drive over, all Trevor could say was “They stayed with me when I had to face the shop owner, they stayed with me!”

When Trevor died in the States at 16, he held on for days, in a coma, near death.  Finally I asked the doctor “why?” and she said, “He seems to be waiting for something.”

I knew exactly what that was, and called the boys back in Japan and arranged to call back in 30 minutes as soon as they could get together in one place.

As I held the phone to his ear, they called out to him in his coma.

“Trevor!”  They sang out in boyish Japanese, “Man, it’s been fun, we’ll miss you so much but we know we’ll see ya in Heaven!”

…….and within just a few minutes his body seemed to relax and he passed on.

As we made our way back to Japan, those boys worked non stop preparing, and at his funeral they played their guitars and sang with some degree of English, the song that summed up their existence, “Stand By Me’.

For me at least, it was the most poignant part of the service.  It reminded me of the old favorite verse in Proverbs 18:24, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

As we were packing up after the funeral, Makoto came up to me and said,  ”So what time do you want us next weekend?”

I disguised my shock and wondered if they’d missed the obvious, but I smiled and said,  “Oh, just whenever you get done with school.”

You see, they hadn’t missed the obvious.  They were “family” and coming to our house was just what they did.  They continued to come every weekend till they all left for college and their adult lives.

What an incredible blessing they were for us as we searched for our ‘new normal’ without Trevor.  First Nathan,who was just 11, and then we adopted Nicki, they kept appearing and together continued to be the brothers that made all of our lives richer.

Today those three boys love the Lord and are serving Him.  Makoto went on to become the pastor of the church where Trevor’s ashes are, Katsuya is a leading musician in the Baptist churches in far northern Japan and Jun, the one who never uttered a word of English, is now a PHD professor of…….English.

I was just reading today in Psalms 146:9, “The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.”  God gave these “Stand by Me” boys to help make us well again.  How can we even comprehend his faithfulness?

Hope you have a great weekend.  Marsha

And I just remembered that this is “Memorial Day” in the States. More reason to be thankful for boys who made the sacrifice, eh?

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