Tonight I will have the privilege of bringing the Word at the wake of Edward Cheah, or Booney-ko as he was known among family and friends. He is the husband of Agnes, Bernice’s cousin. Booney-ko died on Wednesday as a result of a horrendous traffic accident he suffered on Monday. He was on his bicycle when he was rammed by a car travelling at high speed. Apparently the driver was trying to beat the red light at a junction. His skull was broken in eight places.

This is all happening in Penang. I am back for my monthly visit for mum. This trip was planned some time ago and I was a bit frustrated that the trip was so close to my previous one. Since I visit once a month I try to space out my visits. But this was the only week I could come. My flight was on Tuesday. On Monday we heard the news.

I am grateful that I am in Penang and can be with the family at this time. I visited Booney-ko in hospital on Wednesday around 1pm. He was in ICU in a coma. He had not regained consciousness since the accident. I was waiting for my turn to go in. Only 2 visitors at a time for ICU; but Eugene, one of Booney-ko’s sons came out and said his mum wanted me to come in straight away. Booney-ko had taken a turn for the worse and could go anytime.

I rushed in. Agnes was there with Adelene, their daughter. I talked to Booney-ko in English and in Hokkien, the heart language of Penang folks. I told him how much I appreciated his kindness and, if Jesus were to come to invite him home, to not be afraid. I prayed for him. I read three psalms, Psalms 23, 3 and 121. And at Adelene’s request we sang “I surrender all”. Booney-ko teared. That could be the result of any number of things. We like to believe that the scripture readings, the hymn and the prayer touched him, and they strengthened his soul for his final journey. He passed on a few hours later.

Bernice has joined me and I am glad that we can minister together. Her family is very close. I am still blown away that I would be in Penang at this time and even more so at the decision to visit him on Wednesday, at just the right time. I believe this was orchestrated by the Lord. It means that though this horrible accident took us all by surprise it did not take God by surprise. Although none of us would have wanted Booney-ko to go in this way, indeed none of us wants to go in this way, we believe that, finally, it is God who decides when we are to be born and when we are to leave this life, and how.

. . . all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:6b  NIV)

And because Booney-ko is a follower of Jesus we believe he is with the Lord. This is scant comfort at a time when we are all in shock. But it is true, and it is comfort. At a time like this when life feels like a maelstrom, we anchor our lives on the sure constants of God, His Word, and community.