Somewhere Between The Death Of One Vision And The Anticipation Of Another

Somewhere Between The Death Of One Vision And The Anticipation Of Another

 I’ve said very little since Emanuel’s passing, and have written even less. It’s been 6 weeks since Jill and I received that early morning call, letting us know he was gone. I know full well now, as I did then, that Jesus is just as glorified in death as He is in life. I’m still deeply reassured by the promises Jesus gives, and keeps, regarding a believer’s passing from this world to the next. I smile knowing that, with no tumor blocking his eyes anymore, Emanuel now sees Jesus “just as He is.” – 1st John 3:2.

Santa Clara, Cuba 2017

I met 13-year-old Emanuel on a mission trip. He’d been born with a rare disorder that led to the growth of a life-threatening 10-pound tumor on his face, and the Lord convicted me to do whatever I could to get him the best medical care possible. My efforts succeeded. The surgeries did not.

Prior to Emanuel’s passing, I was in a dream of sorts—experiencing what “mine eyes had never seen, nor my ears ever heard” (1 Corinthians 2:9). After a year of toil, we were filled with awe as Emanuel and his parents were finally able to set foot on American soil. I was anticipating the reemergence of Emanuel’s smile—which had disappeared long before he and I ever met. I began to envision Emanuel’s story transcending political parties, governments and institutions to accomplish what the kingdom of God alone can do: the healing of nations, in addition to a young man’s afflictions.

In early January, everything seemed to be on track. The vow I’d made in Cuba to Emanuel, only months before, had come to fruition: he was receiving medical care from world-class surgeons in Miami. His first surgery was a success, and our spirits were high. We were overwhelmed watching CBS Evening News, CNN, Google, BBC and USA Today—among others—broadcasting, mostly-unedited, our message of hope: that Christ alone is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly above all we can think or even imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). 

Miami, Florida 2017

A lot has happened since January 19th, 2018. After Emanuel died unexpectedly, his parents went into hiding in Miami—leaving us with a host of unresolved issues and hurt. Since then, I’ve been reminding myself of the browbeaten 30-year-old man I was when I entered full-time ministry in 1999. I didn’t step-out thinking that it would be easy. I stepped out because it was right. 

I hadn’t sought-out the opportunity with Emanuel, but I know with certainty that my King Jesus sent it to me. Which is why I’d do it all again. The Lord will use this as He sees fit; He always does, and I trust He will make me a better man for it.

As this column’s title indicates, I currently find myself somewhere between the death of one vision and the anticipation of another. Now more than ever, I want to thank you for believing in me, and in the role Jesus has called me to fill. So many of you have given me the much-needed courage needed to fight another battle on another day, and that means the world to me. I thank the Lord for you. 

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen”  (1st Timothy 1:17).

—George Shamblin


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