To Die is Gain

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Yesterday was a very different day that will have extensive repercussions.   I was just walking out the door for an appointment when my daughter called me with the news that her brother-in-law, Joel Bandy had passed away.  The news was quite shocking as I knew him quite well and had for a quarter of a century. 

During that time I worked with Joel as his fried, pastor, counselor, and whatever else he needed, along with many others.  He would call me once or twice a week and share his struggles.  He fought through mental illness, personal worth, etc.  Over the years he changed from an angry man to a gentle loving person.  He found his greatest joy in the Lord and that was always the subject of his conversation.  He spent multiplied hours reading through the scriptures and could quote scriptures with the best. 

I don’t know why we became so close.  Perhaps it was because he was so genuine and unpretending.  He knew who and what he was and had little to no time trying to be someone else.  His greatest desire was to be used by the Lord and wanted others to know the Lord as he knew Him.

This struggle was continuous until one day, in an effort to give him something to work on that he would find challenging aa well as rewarding, I suggested he use the college training he had.  He majored in the Russian language and had worked as a translator.  It had been years since he had used it and was rusty.  He then asked me how to do it?  He said he didn’t know how to start and had no contacts that would hire him.  I told him to find something to translate and just start doing it for the experience.  I told him that the job would follow.  He still seemed reluctant so I suggested that he translate my book into Russian.  His immediate response was that no, it was too big a task and that he wouldn’t want to start with such a big project.  I then suggested that he take small bites and just do a chapter but that was still too much so I suggested that he do a paragraph or even a sentence.  I wasn’t looking for a translator but simply a project that would help him focus on developing his skills.  He said he would pray about it and let me know.  That was Joel, he prayed about everything.  Then, a few days later, he told me that he would at least make an attempt at a sentence but he wasn’t promising anything beyond that. 

That was nearly two years ago.  After he translated the first sentence, he said that he would try another, which he did by the next day.  He began to enjoy translating and then it was a paragraph, and then another and each time he said he didn’t know how long he would continue but for now he would continue.  Within a few weeks he had completed the entire first chapter.  Sometimes he would find a word or phrase that didn’t translate so he would call me and we would figure it out together.  It wasn’t long until he began to clear out the rust and the familiarity would come back and he really began to get better and doing it.  He began to collect the tools he needed to do an accurate job.  He took pride in doing a good job and would chase a word to its beginning and through its uses to get it right.

He pressed on and finished the first chapter, then the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chapters.  As we worked through the ends of the sixth chapter, he seemed to be pressing hard and did the final three paragraphs at one time, and we rejoiced together.  He said he just wanted to get it finished and was glad we had it done.  He said he would be forwarding it to me soon.  That was on Saturday evening.  Then on Tuesday morning I got the news that he had gone to be with the Lord. 

We talked on various occasions about this life being so short, yet he longed to be with the Lord.  The Lord was his comforter and understood him.  Now he is enjoying life in a whole new dynamic.  His struggles are over and his victory is won.  While I lost my friend, brother, co-laborer, and translator; He has gained peace, victory and the presence of the Lord.  I rejoice in his gain and I will miss him until we are reunited there with the Lord.

2 thoughts on “To Die is Gain

  1. Since I won’t see you Sunday I’ll tell you now. I am so sorry for your loss. He seemed to be much more than a very good friend.

    • Jeannine,

      Thank you for your comment and concern. You are right, Joel was an inspiration and a brother in the Lord. He had his limitations and needs but I have never known anyone more devoted to the Lord. He spent many hours of each day studying the Bible and praying. I am a better man because of what the Lord taught me through him.

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