Grieving the loss of Nigerian missionary’s son
By Gary Fallesen
Climbing For Christ president
The third anniversary of the Lives Aglow church pastored by Climbing For Christ member Chris Joseph in Port Harcourt, Nigeria was celebrated Dec. 13-15. It was a wonderful success.
One week later, Pastor Chris and his family grieved the loss of their youngest child.
Emmanuel Paul Joseph died on his first birthday of a fever and bronchial pneumonia. “We loved him, but God love him most,” Chris said.
The Joseph family with baby Emmanuel inset.
Chris hurriedly finished church on Sunday, Dec. 22 because Emmanuel was struggling to breathe. “He is in the state of unconsciousness,” Chris relayed that afternoon. “Our doctors are on strike so he has been rushed to a private hospital. The doctor says he is to be placed on oxygen.”
However, the doctor also said the Josephs needed to pay US$100 before “going into a more serious treatment.” Chris did not have the money and, being a Sunday and headquartered on the other side of the world, we were unable to help. He went to a neighbor and borrowed the money.
“Barely one hour (after) making the payment, right (before) my very eyes, Emmanuel breathed his last,” Chris said.
Our hearts grew heavy with this news.
“Only God knows why,” Chris said. “I can authoritatively tell you that my late son is joyfully in the arms of Jesus, celebrating with the saints above. To God be all the glory.”
Chris granted me permission to share the story of Emmanuel’s passing. I was blessed to be asked to again give the middle name of Chris’s son (as I had Emmanuel’s older brother Elijah Martin) in December 2012. I chose Paul because, as I told Chris at the time, “He was the great missionary. May your son have the same desire to share our Jesus with the world.”
Now, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus (called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us”), we share the knowledge that a family in Nigeria, heartbroken to lose a child, is comforted by a God Who still is with us.
“You can share the translation into eternal glory of Emmanuel to the Climbing For Christ family the world over,” Chris said on Monday, Dec. 23. “I believe this is one of the cardinal aims of the organization – sharing our successes and sorrows for testimony and encouragement.”
Climbing For Christ has been working in Nigeria since helping Pastor Chris reopen his church in 2010. A short-term mission team went there in 2011 and C4C began ministering to the people of the Koma Hills in Nigeria’s northeast. Plans were being made for 2014 when Emmanuel fell ill. C4C continues to support Chris, his family, his church and the ministry to reach the lost in that troubled and difficult nation.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” – Isaiah 53:4 (ESV)