If you are looking for my examination of the uncut Cultures of Revolution video, click on this link to go to the MAVI MARMARA report.
Near the end of July, one of my nephews died of a drug overdose. The news came as quite a shock because before then God had protected my nephew's life, in spite of his problems that put it at risk. My nephew was mentally retarded, though some parts of his brain could function fairly well, similar to the phenomenon of idiot savants, though he did not exhibit any talents that were really extraodinary.
He was similar to his paternal grandmother, though she was brighter than him and a lot more able to relate in positive ways to others. Lydia was a simple-minded woman who did the best crocheting that I have ever seen. I was blown away when I saw a doily she had made, with exquisite, little swans swimming in a circle at the centre of it. She was also good at cleaning and worked as a maid. When Johnny came along, though, and Lydia was asked to babysit him, she got into a panic because she had forgotten how to change diapers, and she was very glad when my mother came over and helped her out with that.
Johnny would have gone to Heaven any of those times where his life was spared. When he died, I soon realized that his life had been spared before now because his mother was not ready to let him go. She had to reach the point where the stress of taking care of him was literally killing her before she could release him to the Lord. He had to go so that she would not die before her time.
My family and I feel deeply for my sister's pain, but we are glad that she is finally released from the burden of caring for a son who was mentally retarded and schizophrenic. Lorrie, on the other hand, says she wishes that she had a her dear, little burden back. It is a catch 22 situation. She finally is free of the burden of running after Johnny, but she now has to deal with a burden of grief over his loss. I want her to be happy and enjoy life more, now that she no longer has to look out for him, but until she receives Yehoshua as her Saviour, and Heaven becomes more of a reality to her, how can she be happy without her son? At least she is now free from anxiety about what was going to happen to Johnny after she was gone and there was no else to love and care for him as much as she did.
It increased our sadness, of course, that Johnny's death was due to drugs, rather than simply through natural causes, but we are very thankful that he did not die as the result of violence. God mercifully spared us of this when Johnny was in his teens, and stabbed seven times when he was in a park one evening.
Now he is gone, but though he was her only child, my sister has not been left childless. Johnny had a daughter and she has two brothers, so Lorrie has three grandchildren to bestow her love on.
At Johnny's funeral, I distributed copies of the following eulogy in memory of my nephew:
Johnny was born on September 22, 1975 in Edmonton, Alberta. He was the first grandchild born in his family. Aunts, uncles, and grandmothers eagerly crowded around to see the new baby. He was soon joined by his cousin Shane. Shane's mother is Lorrie's sister and his father is brother to Johnny's father, so Johnny and Shane were more like brothers than cousins.
As a toddler, Johnny was extremely cute with his olive skin, chocolate brown eyes, and dark, curly hair. We expected that he would grow up normally like any other child in our family, but it soon became apparent that he had learning disabilities. Johnny was frustrated that he did not match his cousin Shane intellectually and that naturally made for some jealousy, but even so, he was quick to come to Shane's defence against bullies.
Johnny was disappointed that he could not keep up in school to other kids his age. He turned to drugs as an escape from his frustrations, but, of course, they only made his problems worse. His mother, his Uncle John, and his Auntie Judy worked hard at trying to help him achieve a healthy sense of self–esteem; their efforts, no doubt, made a difference. Even so, Johnny's intellectual and metabolic disabilities presented huge parenting challenges that extended into his adulthood.
Lorrie was a very gentle and patient mother. She worked hard at learning about his medical condition and finding ways to help him. She had the wisdom to know how much to do for him, and when to pull back so that he would learn to do some things for himself. He learned how to drive a car, and he was very conscientious about making sure the alarm was set before he left the house. Johnny was able to some things quite well by focussing on how to do that one thing. He could not handle more than one area of interest at a time.
Lorrie's partner Bill was very supportive of Lorrie in a literal way by supporting her financially because he saw that holding a job and running after Johnny was too hard on her health. He has been a great blessing to our family through his tender concern for Lorrie and his patience with Johnny's disabilities.
Johnny was very particular about his grooming, and when he moved into a place of his own, he always kept it immaculately clean and tidy. He had pets that he was very fond of and he kept them in good order, too. They may not have liked being frequently bathed, but they adjusted to it. Animals can sense when someone is determined and will brook no protest.
Johnny did not like to talk to people because he didn't know what to say to them most of the time, but his little sideways smile showed that he appreciated his relatives showing love for him with their hugs and kisses. I remember how Johnny used to sit on my lap right up until he was thirteen–years–old, and I thought it was pretty neat that he did not think he was getting too sophisticated at that age to let his auntie be affectionate towards him.
Johnny brought another member to the family; his daughter Deborah, and Deborah's brothers and Mom and stepfather are part of our family, as well. We were all so excited when Deborah was born; the first great–grandchild in the clan. As Greatgrandpa cuddled her in his arms and was asked what he thought of her, he replied, "She's better than diamonds and rubies." Johnny's disabilities kept him from having much interaction with Deborah, but he was very proud of her.
Johnny knew that he had a very special Mom. He saw others who had problems similar to his, but nobody to help them like his mother helped him. Lorrie expended a lot of time and energy in his behalf, making appointments for him, seeing counsellors, looking for places for him to live, helping him move, doing his laundry and helping with cleaning, repairing things for him, taking him on outings, and countless other things that helped Johnny know that he was worth a lot to her.
Johnny was tormented by confusion. He did not understand why he could not have a normal life where he had a job, earned more money than what he could get on disability, and other things that many of us take for granted. When things did not work and could not be easily repaired or replaced, he was confused about why he had to wait or do without.
He was a lonely young man, but he had some friends who accepted him as he was. He liked to feel that he was "hanging out with the guys", like a normal adult.
But Johnny really wasn't an adult. He was a little boy in a grown up body. He might have made more progress, but early drug use killed off brain cells and hindered his mental and emotional development, in addition to the disabilities that he was born with. Most children, if they find themselves inhabiting a handsome, adult body, will explore the opportunities for sex that this circumstance affords them. If they are given an income that could pay their living expenses, they will spend it on foolish things, unless they can be curbed.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Kids tend to get up to all sorts of mischief, and some children even do a lot of harm, but God does not hold young children accountable for their actions the way He does teens and adults who have greater ability to make rational, responsible decisions.
The morning he died showed the promise of being a beautiful day when Johnny walked in a park with Buster, his little dog who was his constant companion. It was very early; Johnny was either out for a morning walk, or returning home after having gone somewhere to take drugs. He had taken too much of the drug into his system and his lungs filled with fluid. Suddenly, his short life on Earth was over as he collapsed on a baseball field.
I remember a time when Johnny called my sister to pick him up in downtown Langley to take him back to the campsite in Fort Langley where he was staying at the time. I sat behind him in the car as he rattled on to Lorrie, complaining about this and that. For a moment, though, he interrupted his litany to humbly thank her for coming to pick him up. I thought to myself, "That is the real Johnny. He knows what his Mom does for him, and he appreciates it." The real Johnny was a prisoner of the personalities that confused him and provoked him to behave destructively.
Then the eyes of my spirit were opened and I saw Johnny's guardian angel standing behind him, with his hands wrapped around Johnny's head, his forehead leaning against the back of Johnny's head has he ministered to Johnny in his confusion. I felt something of the heart of that being; he loved Johnny intensely with his Creator's love, and grieved deeply that his charge was so tormented.
When I got the email telling me of Johnny's death, I was shocked, but I quickly realized that Johnny had gone to Heaven, because he had never had an adult's mentality, or even the mentality of a teen, though he emulated a teen like a child would who was acting out a fantasy, trying to keep up with the big boys.
I remember how Johnny quoted one time, word for word, the verse from John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." I was astounded that Johnny could recite that verse; it so unusual of him to be able to retain a piece of information like that, but it had made a deep impression on him.
He didn't know what to make of it at the time; he expressed doubt that it was true. Maybe he thought that if God really loved him, He would have made him smarter. But now he knows it is true. In spite of how he had been allowed to suffer, God loved him all along, and gathered him to His bosom when the purpose for Johnny's life was finished.
It may take the rest of our lives to understand God's purpose in Johnny's life and how it was used to shape our characters. Even if we receive a lot of enlightenment, we won't see the full picture until we ourselves are standing before the Throne of God to give account for our deeds and thoughts, and receive eternal rewards or eternal loss accordingly. It is satan, the enemy of our soul, who tempts us to doubt the goodness of God's character because of evil circumstances, but the Creator always has a redeeming purpose in everything that He allows, and will work all things together for our good, if we will keep on trusting Him and loving Him no matter what happens.
We grieve because Johnny's passing has left a void in our lives. He is no longer with us physically, but there is no need to grieve for Johnny on his behalf. He is finally free of his mental limitations. When he fell down on the grass that bright, sunny morning, his angel lifted him in his arms and soared into the heavens with him. Johnny must have been stunned to suddenly find his mind lucid, sharp and clear like never before, but he would still wonder at how he was racing past stars in inky darkness, faster than the speed of light, until he and his angel reached the Heavenly City.
What a marvel it must have been for Johnny to see its jewel walls and a great gate of pearl, through which he was granted entry. I have heard that the Hall of Records is just inside the gates, where the names are found of those who are allowed to enter the City, and that friendly angels greet the newcomers. But perhaps before entering the City, he first spent some time in Paradise, which is on the outskirts, to get him ready for that higher level of glory.
How marvellous it must have been for him to be set down upon a carpet of grass that is like emerald silk, in a shining place that is filled with scents a thousand times better than the best perfumes on Earth, and Johnny knew this was his real Home. Even so, the first thing he probably asked was, "Where's Buster?" and he would have received the reply that Buster was okay and being well taken care of. He then saw people he knew who had died, but had trusted in Jesus as their Saviour. What a happy reunion he must have had with them, and added was the thrill of now being just as smart as they are, though he had yet to learn things that they already knew.
Before he died, Johnny was in the process of being evicted for playing his stereo too loud, and I had been praying that God would open up the perfect place for him to move to. The day I hurried over to see Lorrie after receiving her email, I opened up my Bible at random when I got on the 502 bus to continue my Bible reading for the day. It could have opened up at any number of places, but it happened to open to John 14 and my eyes fell on the words of Jesus, "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
Well, God certainly has answered my prayers, though not in the way that I expected. Instead of only a little apartment or bachelor suite, Johnny now has a whole house to live in, and it is exquisite beyond any dwelling place on Earth. It has a beautiful yard with a fabulous garden. He again has all his pets that died and probably has adopted new ones. Maybe he has a lion that sits at his feet while he reads books and accompanies him on his walks. I wouldn't be surprised if he has dinosaurs trailing him around for company.
Johnny was lonely in this life, but now he has friends galore. How it must thrill him to find everyone so friendly and willing to get to know him, offering to show him around his new environment. Laying around on clouds and idly playing harps is not what Heaven is at all. It truly is place of pleasures, but also a place of learning.
I had prayed for Johnny that God would use him in a special way, because I have friends who are mentally challenged, but are spiritually gifted. Then one day I heard a man and his mother telling of a great miracle that God did for them. The man is named Ricky Roberts and he was mentally retarded until he was sixteen years old. His parents had believed that God would heal their child and give him normal intelligence. God went even beyond that. Ricky not only received a healing and a supernatural downloading of information into his brain that enabled him to suddenly skip seven grades and put him second in his Grade 10 class that year, but now he holds five earned doctorate degrees and two PhDs, and he is considered an expert in ancient languages. After I heard Ricky telling his story on Sid Roth's It's Supernatural program, which can be accessed through the Internet, I figured that I ought to raise the bar on what I was believing for Johnny. I prayed that God would make Johnny really smart. Well, now he is smarter than the smartest person on Earth, though this did not come about until after his entrance into Heaven.
I am glad that I put my faith out there the best I could to believe for great things; it helped to stretch it and make it stronger, even if it did not achieve what I thought it would. I have no regrets that my prayers did not get answered the way that I expected them to. What Johnny has now is better than what he would have had, if my prayers had been answered on this side of death's door. Now his soul is safe and he is never again going to suffer. If he had received that healing while on Earth, he would have become accountable for his decisions, and he might have made a fatal error somewhere along the way.
I am happy for him when I think of the good things he is enjoying now, and how excited he must be about going to school and learning things that he never dreamed that he would ever know. Anything that captures his interest, he is free to explore. If he wants to know about all the civilizations that lived on Earth, whose history has been lost or is suppressed from our history books, he can learn about those things now. He can learn all sorts of stuff about Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Astronomy, and even visit the planets. How cool is that?
The best thing about Heaven, though, is meeting face to face with the Creator. Johnny began his existence even before the Universe was created as a bright thought in God's mind, and now he has returned to his Source. I am sure that he will spend many times just cuddling up in the Father's arms, soaking in His love.
The Father extends His love to us, to assure us that Johnny lives, though he is no longer present with us, and to invite us to enter into that joy also, through the Door He has provided, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, who made a way for us back to the Father through His death on the cross, when we turn from our sins to receive Him as our Saviour. If through his death, Johnny can help his family and their friends to think seriously about life and where they will spend eternity, and do what is needed to join him in his everlasting joy, then his life will count for that much more.
Copyright © 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on August 1, 2010
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.