More than a year passed since the death of my beloved father Hajj Ali, in Beirut, Lebanon. I could not go then to the funeral, and could not mourn his death properly. Six months after that, my step-mother passed away. That sealed a long period of time (44 years) I lived in Lebanon.
As I ponder on my loss, and the world I lost because of following Jesus Christ, I find in the words of St. Paul in Philippians 3: 8, the only true expression of how I feel:
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,” New American Standard Version
Below is the letter of condolences, sent by Pastor Bernie Lutz. I publish this as a tribute to my late father who supported me in my calling to follow Christ and serve Him:
Greetings in Jesus!
Ali Chihab lived a long life. A feisty, hard working, honest man with a generous heart. His grilled chicken, almonds and hosptiality were appreciated and we often enjoyed his well known “ful”. God, the mighty and merciful God, created and sustained Ali, and blessed him with a long, productive life. Out side of you, he was my best friend in Hamra and I will always remember his support for you and the new change in your life that took place under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
When we left Beirut or when we arrived, Ali was there to welcome us with open arms and a kiss. This meant so much to us. You can be very proud of your father in so many ways. As to the judgment of his soul, only God has this answer, for He alone sees knowingly into our hearts and lives, He knows what we are thinking and what we really believe.
As you mourn the death of Ali Chehab may the powerful hand of God fall upon you with new love and hope. You made a decision to do what you are doing, your father gave his hand and heart in support of the task you chose, and now Roberta and I ask God to give you a peaceful heart, a heart that rests in the death, resurrection and work of Jesus, God’s only Son. Peace be with you.
As we ponder this news we will probably send you a memorial gift in memory of your father and our dear friend. You are like a true son and we love you very much. Please keep in touch.
Allah Mahabah (Arabic for “God is Love”)
Pastor Bernie, Roberta
January 29, 2012