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« May the Force be with you | Main | Evolution: God’s Plan? »

December 19, 2006

A Testimony of Faith to a Watching World

Frjonathan I was so moved to read this: "Open Letter to the Families of the Missing Oregon Hikers," or climbers, to be more precise. As awful as this story has been as it has unfolded, I have been so grateful to see the example of faith set by Frank James and these other family members. They have truly been an example to a watching world. Father Jonathan wonders why this story has captured the attention of so many:

It is easy to tune out reports of missing people. . . . Most of us, emotionally saturated with problems of our own . . . . go about our day, and hope bad news goes away, at least for us. . . . Why do I now care so much about Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke, three men I’ve never met? What makes this story different?

He puts his finger on what has made the difference:

It’s you, all of you, three families that in tragedy have become one family. Together you have approached this never-ending nightmare with dignity, fortitude and shocking faith. You are an icon of what we would like to be.

Father Jonathan elaborates about the virtues this family has shown to a watching world as this tragedy has unfolded.

• You are selfless. Your spokesman, Frank James, is Kelly’s brother, but when he speaks about Brian and Jerry -- someone else’s husband, father, son, and brother -- he does so with the same force and passion as when he speaks of Kelly.

"We are in this together, all three families. We are doing a lot of hugging and a lot of praying.”

• You don’t complain. Instead, you call the rescuers heroes even when they are forced to rest for a day or two because of weather and fatigue.

"We want everyone to know we consider the rescue teams to be heroes for what they are doing.”

• You don’t lay blame. For days you prayed for good weather, and for days it never came. You kept praying, trusting God’s mysterious ways could be even better than your own.

"Today’s the day for courage and for prayers. Courage can help us see through this snowstorm, and our prayers can literally move mountains.”

I echo Father Jonathan's sentiments here. And I pray that a watching world will see in these believing families a testimony to what faith, hope, and love look like in the midst of tragedy.

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Frank James and the families have been powerful witnesses for the glory of God; many have noticed. On Sunday evening, CNN's news anchors were commenting on the absence of Frank James after the discovery in snow cave #2 and how they themselves needed to hear his comforting words. This is an incredible testimony in the midst of such tragedy.

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