It was such an incredible privilege to be able to fly and spend five days in Western New York for my cousin Stephen’s funeral. His horrific death has certainly left us all reeling. It is very difficult to grasp that a man who did combat duty flying a Black Hawk would lose his life so senselessly.
During visiting hours on Friday it is estimated that well over a thousand people lined up to express their sorrow to Jamie, his sons, Billie and Okie and the rest of the family. Stephen’s death has certainly rocked this little farming community to its core.
There will never be any doubt that Stephen joyfully lived his life for Christ. Story after story after story of his godly influence on the lives of all around were continuous. It was astounding! I knew he was a godly man, but to have hundreds share his powerful influence on their lives was awe-inspiring.
The funeral service included fellow West Point grads sharing how not only did Stephen have a regular Bible study at midnight in the hall outside his room but included some he led to Christ and then came home with him to be baptized in the church my cousins have attended their entire lives and where the funeral was held.
Staying with Neil and Mary was such a beautiful blessing as we could walk the loss of Stephen together. They love so well, welcoming me on a moments notice and I truly hate to leave them any time I am there.
There is, no doubt, Stephen’s sudden passing and subsequent funeral has challenged many on how they spend their days and what will be said about them when it’s time to leave this earth. His life leaves a tremendous hole in the hearts of all who loved him. To know him, was truly to love him.
Thank you for praying for Jamie, the boys, Billie, Okie, his siblings and all who loved him. If they come to mind, please continue to lift them up. We are confident that when Stephen met Jesus he heard, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”