Monday, January 12, 2009


zOver the past few years I have volunteered with Hope Extreme, an amazing organization run by my friend Tara. They offer tutoring and outreach to urban children in Houma, a town about an hour from where I live. My best friend Amber's heart is totally devoted to Hope Extreme, and I was introduced to it through her. This past semester I went every Tuesday to tutor for a few hours. Getting to know the kids has been such a blessing! They are so special, each and every one of them.

On December 22, one of the kids that was very special to Hope Extreme passed away suddenly. The funeral service was one of the saddest and yet most joyful I have ever been to. Although he was young, Jaquan didn't waste his life. He lived for his Lord, and left an example for everyone who knew him. Please keep his family and Hope Extreme in your prayers; as you can imagine, it has been extremely hard on everyone involved. Please pray also that the impact he had will continue to linger, even stronger through his death. We are praying that all the kids who knew him will realize the brevity of life, and how important it is to not waste one minute. Your next breath is not guaranteed. Not one person knows how long he/she has left on this earth.

Here is what Tara wrote about Jaquan:
The Psalmist writes "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me..." In earthly terms our human shadows are caused by a greater light that displays but a vague glimpse of our earthly image. In this passage the psalmist is aware that the shadow of death is also caused by a greater source, the all encompassing light of God shining in such a way that we are to know that "his rod and staff will comfort us."

This past month that shadow passed over Hope Extreme. Sixteen-year-old Jaquan Veal, who had been with Hope Extreme since our beginning, passed away on December 22. About twenty kids were here at the center the night we learned of his passing; as you can imagine, life here has not been the same.

We have mourned. We have doubted. We have cried. We have remembered that God is the God of second chances. Jaquan had a heart transplant almost three years ago which at the time left him blind and partially paralyzed. God gave Jaquan his life back, his sight back, and his body back and we were so thankful. Jaquan knew that his life was but a fleeting breath and dedicated it to the God who saved him. Jaquan often said that he received two hearts...a physical one, but more importantly a spiritual one, the latter which is eternal.

Though our tragedy is great, through Jaquan's life - and through those who came closer to God as a result of his death - there is greater triumph. And that is how we chose to ring in the New Year, in God's Almighty Triumph.

Jaquan and Amber

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